Ozzie Guillen prepares for loss of stars
By no means have the White Sox decided to move on without either player, but Guillen, appearing Thursday on "The Waddle and Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000, seemed to be getting ready for what he considered a worst-case scenario.
"To me, right now, I don't [know]," Guillen said when asked if he thought he would see Konerko and Pierzynski in spring training. "First of all because it's too early. I talked to [chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] last night and he didn't mention either of the two names. I think I'm going to see [general manager] Kenny [Williams] in the next couple of days to talk about it."
The White Sox already have $75.4 million in salary commitments for 2011. But Konerko was the team's best run producer this past season, driving in 111 runs, and Pierzynski had a 3.95 catcher's ERA (the ERA of White Sox pitchers when he was behind the plate), his lowest since a 3.74 mark in 2005.
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Konerko has spent 12 productive seasons with the club; Pierzynski has been with the White Sox for six seasons.
"It's a funny thing, because you want to make decisions with your heart, but you're going to make your decision with your brain," Guillen said. "It's not easy to be in Kenny's or Jerry's position right now, because we all know we love PK and we love A.J., and it's not easy. But the decision will be the best decision for the organization and the best decision for the team and we'll see what happens.
"If you ask Kenny and Jerry right now, they'll say yes, of course they want them. They play good for them. They had good years. The fans love them. I love them. The decision will be a tough one, and I'll be a big supporter of whatever decision they make."
Interestingly, there doesn't seem to be the same amount of love for closer Bobby Jenks, although Guillen was not directly asked about the right-hander. Jenks is arbitration-eligible and figures to command a contract in the vicinity of $9 million for 2011, but he is expected to be non-tendered by the White Sox.
More proof that the White Sox will part ways with Jenks came Thursday, when FoxSports.com reported that the White Sox have been looking into free agent Rafael Soriano, who had 45 saves with the Tampa Bay Rays this past season. Soriano, who will get a healthy raise on the $7.25 million he made in 2010, will turn 31 next month.
As for whom Guillen would like to see added to the club, he claims to be leaving all of the decisions to Williams and Reinsdorf.
"I never put my nose [in] and say, 'I want this guy,' " Guillen said. "First of all, I don't have that power. There's only one guy I asked to bring back, [in 2010] and that was Mark Kotsay. I want this kid back because I think he did a tremendous job for us the year before.
"I'm not really into it. They ask me questions, I answer the questions. I don't have the hammer or the power. When we have conversations, they ask what I have in mind, and we talk and go from there. I don't say I want this or I want that. It's not my department."
Despite repairing his relationship with Williams at the end of the regular season, it doesn't look as if Guillen and the club's top decision-maker will be spending the holidays together any time soon.
"The only relationship I really fear or that really matters to me is my relationship with my wife; that's the one that's important to me," Guillen said. "Professional-wise, [it's very good]. All the stuff happened in the summer, professional-wise we worried about the team and talked about the ballclub and talked about how to get better. [We] talked about everything. That never changed.
"Unfortunately, on the personal side, it's not the same that it was in the past. It got better in the end, but professional-wise, we're true professionals. He does a tremendous job."
Doug Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com.