Ozzie Guillen doesn't fear hot seat
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- As the heat intensifies around Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, whose team slumped into Thursday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays on a seven-game losing streak, his internal cooling system keeps humming along.
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Guillen refuses to let anybody see him sweat, although he did admit, sort of facetiously, that the pressures of being a manager for a franchise he adores does get trying at times.
"Last year when we had the problems, I didn't worry about it last year," Guillen said. "And we had a lot of problems last year, a lot, more than people thought. I come to work, put a smile on my face, talk to you guys and do my manager's job and go home and cry. In front of you guys, I'm fine, I'm cool."
So while the White Sox have raised payroll to team-record levels north of the $125 million mark, and while that beefed up lineup continues to put in a lackluster effort, Guillen insists that he isn't worried about his job security.
"Me? No, I got a lot of money. I got a lot of work," Guillen said. "If I'm not managing the White Sox, I will manage somewhere else. Maybe Mexico, Japan. I know I will manage in Venezuela. I can do a lot of great stuff in baseball. This job might just have a title. I might go to Fox [television]. They want me. "I can do a lot of stuff. Job security, everyone who sits in this chair, all those guys out there, they are in the same boat I am. As soon as you sign the contract, you are in the hot seat. I [don't] worry about that. That's the last thing I even think about."
Bench coach Joey Cora, a collector of inspirational musings, has taken to writing them on the dry-erase board in the team's clubhouse this week. Thursday's message fit Guillen as much as it fit the team.
"I can't give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure which is, 'Try to please everybody,'" the board read.
Internet message boards, Twitter feeds and Facebook posts have been harsh on Guillen and the job he is doing in the early going. He hears it, sees it and reads it, but he claims that it doesn't consume him.
"If I get fired, I deserve to get fired," Guillen said. "I don't think [chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] or [GM] Kenny [Williams] will fire me just to tell the people, 'We [don't] like Ozzie,' or 'Look at what we are going to do,'" Guillen said. "They will fire me because my players will get me fired. That's the way I look at it. That's the last thing that goes through my mind."
As he addressed the fate that could await him if the White Sox's struggles continue, Guillen used humor as his defense mechanism.
"You know what, the other day I make a comment if the worst thing ever happens to me is I get fired, I have to pick up all the [stuff] from my office in Chicago and that's a lot of stuff, a lot of pictures and family memories," Guillen said. "Besides that, no, I've been fired and released before. If I get fired, I can at least enjoy my $2 million or something that I'm going to get next year. "I'll do like Manny Ramirez. I'll go to Spain for the bullfights and come back for the World Series. I don't worry about it. People worry about firing, they need the money or need the job. I want this job, don't get me wrong. I just moved to Chicago. But no, that's the last thing I worry about."
Breaking down his early-season moves, lineup decision and pitching changes, Guillen is satisfied he has done all he can.
"When I look myself in the mirror, I think I did everything right for the team," he said. "If I'm going to please the fans, the media, Jerry, Kenny, then I [don't] worry about the one I have to please the most, which is my players. "You look at my Twitter right now and it's funny, everyone [else] is a good manager and everyone hates me. My blog [too]. That's the way it is. I enjoy taking the heat. I'm not hiding from nobody. Look around when we play bad, and I'm always right at the top of the dugout at [U.S.] Cellular Field to make sure all the time we do something bad, I make sure those [fans] behind me are screaming to me. That's why I'm there."
Guillen concluded by putting it all in perspective. While this year's early losing streak is bad, the heat on him has been worse. And there are far worse things that could be affecting him.
"Every year, for two or three months Ozzie is going to get fired," he said. "[Then,] 'Oh, wow, look at the turnaround the White Sox did, Ozzie is a genius and they play Ozzie Ball.' That's the fun thing about it. I don't worry about it. "I have three kids who are healthy. My family is well. I saw Lou Piniella a couple of days ago, we had dinner, and he looked very young. This is a good job, but everyone who wants to be manager, be careful what they think.
With that Guillen took a photo of himself off the wall in the manager's office. [The Rays hang a framed headshot on the wall of every manager who is scheduled to use the visiting manager's office this season.]
"You look at my picture from 2004," Guillen said, noting there isn't the gray in his goatee like there is now. "Look at the difference."
Doug Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.