Ozzie Guillen rants on Thome decision
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Thome's game-winning home run Tuesday was the talk of baseball. And what Guillen perceived to be the talk of Chicago was that a guy whom Guillen didn't want on this year's roster ended up costing the White Sox when Thome crushed a 445-foot home run that gave the Twins a 7-6 victory.
"For all those people there saying it was my fault about Jim Thome [not being on the White Sox this year], yes, it's my fault," Guillen said. "If those people don't like that, [expletive] them."
The first answer he gave during his media session wasn't as pointed. It was all over the place, a sure sign that he had plenty to say on the subject and would continue talking until he got across exactly what he wanted to say.
"First of all, let me make this clear: Jim Thome made the decision to leave to the Dodgers," Guillen said initially about the August 2009 deal. "He made that decision to himself, all right. If people are going to blame me not have Jim Thome here, I take full responsibility because I expressed to Jim my love for him, my respect to him and his family, and one thing about my life -- I'm not a hypocrite."
Asked if Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin were having improved performances this season because they were getting time in the DH spot that Thome monopolized last year, Guillen apparently didn't understand the question. He went ahead and got more things off his chest.
"It's a little different with Jim Thome wearing a Minnesota Twins uniform and a Chicago uniform," Guillen said. "Every time I'm going to play Jim Thome, I get asked why is he not playing? Jim Thome has a lot of at-bats [with the Twins] because [Justin] Morneau got hurt. OK? That's it.
"And is he helping this ballclub win? Yes. Are the Minnesota Twins going to go to the playoffs because of Jim Thome and Ozzie doesn't want him? I'll take that blame. Why not? Believe me, Jim Thome isn't here because I don't want to. It's because I don't see him fit on this ballclub in spring training with what we wanted to do."
The more Guillen talked, the more fired up he seemed to get, but he was able to offer his own proof that the White Sox have been better off without Thome and that it has nothing to do with Konerko's and Quentin's improved numbers.
"How many games did we win against the National League [in interleague play], 15?" Guillen said. "Every time we had Jim Thome here, we couldn't play him against the National League. Why won't anybody give me credit for that one? We won 15 games. And Jimbo had one, two at-bats every time we played those guys. And we made this run because we played good against the National League. We got hot then."
Guillen touched on much broader topics like why, in his opinion, Thome seems to be a more respected former White Sox player than Jermaine Dye.
"A lot of people in Chicago talk about Jim Thome. How about JD?" Guillen said. "I think Jermaine Dye did more stuff for the Chicago White Sox than Jim Thome did, with all my respect to Jimbo. What's going on here? I don't get it. Why do people forget about JD? People don't even talk about JD at all."
Guillen even joked about how worn down Dusty Baker and Lou Piniella looked after managing in Chicago, essentially blaming the fickle fans and the media that helps fuel their fire. He added that he saw Baker recently and now that he's out of Chicago he looks like a GQ model.
Guillen seemed to understand it was a fight he wouldn't win, but that he would fight anyway. So even if White Sox fans don't like it, the manager felt obligated to say what he really felt when he watched Thome's blast sail out of the park Tuesday.
"I feel proud of [Thome], to be honest with you," Guillen said, later commenting that on a walk with his wife and son on Wednesday, he found the ball after it had landed in the lobby of the team hotel. "When I see him hit that [expletive] out there all the way to the building out there at 98 [mph], I don't see that for the last three years with us. Good for him. A lot of people talk about the home run from Jim Thome. How about the [Twins'] runs before that? But that's OK. I'll wear it. I'll take it. I'll take the heat."
Even before Guillen was done with yet another rant, he was already envisioning the reaction to it.
"All of a sudden people are going to say, 'Oh, Ozzie's going crazy,'" Guillen said. "No, Jesus. Because I'm the one sitting here taking the beating. I'm ready to take the beating. I'm ready. [Did] anyone here [think] Jim Thome was going to hit a 200,000-foot home run against Thornton? No. But he did that, and [Thornton's] not the only one he's done it to. He's got like 590-some people in the book."
There are plenty of times when Guillen is understanding toward the passion of White Sox fans. But on Wednesday he didn't care to play along. He wasn't sympathizing with those who think he is a fool for letting Thome get away.
"I'm not running away from anybody," Guillen said. "I don't run from anybody because I sleep very well last night, I played golf this morning. I didn't change anything. I rode my bike, [took a nap] and as soon as I'm done with [this game] I'm going to go back to sleep. Same stuff. Because I know my mind, my heart and my soul, they're very clean.
"I have my head on my shoulders, and I think we did the right thing with what we did in spring training. If people don't like it, good. They don't like it, they don't have to watch the [expletive] White Sox. Oh, and I got one more year on my contract. They going to blame me about one home run, I'll take the blame.''
Doug Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com.