Cubs GM: Off-field drama part of losing
CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox won the Crosstown Classic opener Friday, but a lot of the postgame talk centered on conflicts off the diamond, something Cubs general manager Jim Hendry says comes with the territory when teams have been as disappointing as the Cubs and Sox this season.
"That's the world we live in now, I think, when you don't play well, when you're under .500 like we are, and maybe the Sox feel the same way," Hendry said on ESPN 1000's Talking Baseball on Saturday. "When you get off to starts like we've had, that just kind of goes with it. Whether it's the individual finger-pointing, or the rumors that aren't true or what you should or shouldn't have done differently [they] all come out. When you're disappointed in how you're playing, the best way to fix it and answer all the rumors is just play a lot better baseball."
Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella lashed out about media criticism of his use of young players before Friday's game, and Sox counterpart Ozzie Guillen denied a report he nearly came to blows with Sox general manager Kenny Williams earlier this week.
Hendry wasn't bothered by Piniella's eruption, or by the media's coverage of the Cubs manager.
"Lou Piniella's been a great manager for a long time and I stand by him completely," Hendry said. "He certainly has developed young players for a long time and done a great job of it. He has a right to speak his mind and I support him completely.
"I believe it's part of our jobs to take constructive criticism when it comes when you're not doing well. I don't read every blog or every interview or certainly every talk show comment so I don't know [if the coverage has been] fair or unfair, but do I think a man should be judged by his overall body of work and that's been outstanding for not just his four years sitting here with the Cubs but his whole career."
On the south side of town, while Guillen said Friday his relationship with Williams is strained from the frustration of a bad season, he also said they are still able to work together. Hendry said that's the important aspect of the manager-GM relationship.
"I think it's based on more mutual respect than having to be outstanding friends," Hendry said. "Kenny and Ozzie have done a lot of great things together and they're both very good at what they do so I'm sure they have the ability to get through any kind of difficulties if they have them. I felt the Sox had a really good club coming out of camp too, and I still think they could be.
"Lou and I have had a really good relationship in the four years that he's been here and that hasn't wavered whether we were in first place or at this particular time not playing as well."
Both the Cubs and Sox are in third place in their divisions. The Cubs trail the Cincinnati Reds by 7.5 games in the NL Central and the White Sox trail the Minnesota Twins by 8.5 games in the AL Central.