Ozzie Guillen, White Sox clear air
CHICAGO -- Ozzie Guillen not only confirmed Monday that he will be back managing the Chicago White Sox next season, he also said his sometimes-volatile relationship with general manager Kenny Williams is making positive strides.
In what could be characterized as one of the most productive meetings the White Sox have held in years, Guillen got the reassurances he had been looking for all while the frosty relationship between two of the most important members of the organization has started to thaw.
Guillen characterized his meeting Monday with Williams and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf as "great."
Williams wasted little time getting to the point.
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"It was very short," Williams said. "I asked him directly 'Do you want to be here? Do you want to be the manager of the Chicago White Sox?' He said, 'Absolutely.' That it's all he ever wanted. He wanted to know his status and I told him I hope I never have another manager -- at least while I'm in this chair -- for the Chicago White Sox other than him."
Guillen was asked by Reinsdorf about his feelings since the manager had been saying during the team's just-completed road trip that he wanted to know where he stood in the organization's future plans.
At issue appeared to be the one year remaining on Guillen's current White Sox contract. There is also a team option for 2012 that becomes official if the White Sox win the division next season.
"[Reinsdorf] wanted to know about my feelings, and I told him my feeling was that everything was cool," Guillen said. "I expect to be here. Like I said in the past, I never denied I had one more year on my contract, and I want to be here for the future. And everything is great. On my side everything is good and hopefully we can continue to move on."
Guillen seemed relieved and satisfied that his desire to have a heart-to-heart with Williams and Reinsdorf worked out so well.
"At least it's a good thing that it's out of your mind," Guillen said. "Make sure they want you back, and they never denied they wanted me back either.
"We cleared everything up about my situation, our situation here. I'm very satisfied and happy about what they are thinking. I don't expect anything to be different. I have been working with Kenny for seven years and Jerry for 20. I can repeat what they are going to tell me, and that's cool. That's what I want. That's what we want."
Guillen reiterated that he was not looking for an extension, and he was not offered one. He said his concerns were chiefly family-oriented.
"I never will get out of my contract if they don't want me to get out of my contract," Guillen said. "The contract was not the issue. The issue was that I have family, and I want to know exactly where I stand. I was thinking about having some business here in Chicago, and I don't want to lose money in that business. I'm very glad with what I hear and very excited with what I hear."
So while the White Sox will have to deal with free agents Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski and J.J. Putz, as well as decide if they will tender a contract to closer Bobby Jenks, looking for a manager will not be on their agenda.
"I will be back with the White Sox next year," Guillen said. "I want to be back with the White Sox next year. It's good for the ballclub, good for free agents that want to come but don't know if this guy will be here or Kenny will be here. We're cool and now we can start to talk about the ballclub and what we need."
Most surprising might be that Guillen and Williams made strides on their rocky relationship. So where does it stand?
"It's better than yesterday and hopefully worse than tomorrow," Guillen said. "We have work to do and not on the field. Our work ethic is very good. We're going to get better about stuff that happened in the past and communication will be better. Hopefully everything will go back to normal. How normal will it be? It will take a while, but that's what he wants and that's what I want."
Williams said that if a team called asking permission to talk to Guillen about their manager vacancy, he would tell them that Guillen wasn't interested.
Baseball's odd couple is determined to make things work.
"The waters haven't been as smooth as they have been in the past around here, you may have noticed," Williams said. "There have been a lot of peripheral things that got in the way. I don't blame [Guillen]. I wish they weren't so public, and I expressed that to him. He understands how I feel about it.
"If a man stands in front of you and says 'I understand what your concerns are and what you expect. I'd like to move forward and get back to where we were,' you wipe the slate clean and let's go get 'em. Let's talk about the team."
Doug Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.