Guillen: We have a shot at World Series
Sox skipper happy with team, relationship with Williams
Entering his seventh season as the manager of the White Sox, Ozzie Guillen now has the team he wants: built on pitching, defense and speed, with the ability to play small ball and manufacture runs.
ESPNChicago's Bruce Levine sat down with the mercurial White Sox icon for a Q&A.
Is this year's White Sox team built to win a World Series?
Ozzie Guillen: Yes, I think we have a good shot. If we're healthy, we have the people to get it done. I think our pitching staff and defense will play better. A lot of people are worrying about our offense. I'm very happy with our offense. Remember, before you can walk, you have to crawl. I think we're good enough to win our division; after that, you just see what happens in the playoffs. I know this: We're ready to compete.
In 2005, you said you would retire if you won a World Series. We know that didn't happen. What about 2010? If you win, will you quit?
Guillen: No, I won't quit, but I will make a lot more money. But no, I'm not quitting. Maybe if you ask me in July I might have a different idea, but I said a long time ago as long as my family and my wife support me 100 percent, I will continue to do this. It's an easy job when things go well, but when you lose, you get physically and mentally tired. In the back of my heart and in my brain, I feel like I have a lot left in the tank. I'll never quit; they'll have to fire me.
White Sox ownership and management decided to give you the type of team you wanted in 2010. Simply put: better pitching, better defense and getting faster. That said, is there more pressure on you to win?
Guillen: No, because I always take responsibility for my team. Going into this season, I truly believe it's easier to win games with more speed, better defense and pitching. That said, if we do good, I will give credit to the players. We do bad, I always blame myself.
Levine: How would you describe your relationship with [White Sox general manager] Kenny Williams?
Guillen: Good! Good Enough! A lot of things don't go well this spring. I appreciate my ballclub handled it well. Sometimes teams go in different directions when things happen. We all stayed on the same page. Our relationship [his and Williams'] is still the same. I talk to him all the time. I don't think there are any hard feelings. I did what I did because it was necessary for my family [firing his son Oney from his position with the White Sox after there was a difference of opinion on personal tweeting] and my ballclub. He has his job to do, I have mine, but we only really have one main job; that's to win ball games. That's the main thing. When you win games, the relationship is better. When you lose, it's not as good. That's just the way it is. To me, it's over with now. My job is to make everybody happy. How do I do that? Win games.
What comes first in your world? Family or job?
Guillen: Family will always come first. I'm not going to have this job for the rest of my life, but I will have my family for the rest of my life. My family is something nobody can play with; when [my son Oney] was wrong, I explained to him why he was wrong. But really, my family is way more important than anything else, including baseball.
With the assumption that your team is going to be aggressive on the basepaths, will your team lead the league in runners caught stealing?
Guillen: I hope so, because that means we will have a lot of people on base. I told the guys all spring, let's get people on base and then we can really start working. People will see some things on the field that will make them scratch their heads and say, "What are they doing?" But that's how we're going to play.
Who is your most important pitcher going into 2010?
Who is your most important position player for 2010?
Guillen: Our leadoff hitter is very important [Juan Pierre is scheduled to lead off]. He must get on. Last year we had a leadoff man [in Scott Podsednik] who got on and helped us win games. But, whoever is at the plate will be our most important hitter.