MINNEAPOLIS - The idea that the White Sox had perched themselves atop the Metrodome, waving the white flag on the 2009 season in surrender late Monday night, was an easy conclusion to draw from the outside.
Not necessarily an accurate one, however, according to manager Ozzie Guillen.
He would know. After all, Guillen was a member of the original South Side surrender, back in 1997, when the Sox seemingly gave up on the year just 3 ½ games behind Cleveland, sending out pitchers Wilson Alvarez, Danny Darwin and Roberto Hernandez to the Giants at the July 31 trade deadline.
"Not really,'' Guillen responded, when asked if this was White Flag II. "I think right now we can cover that hole [left by Jim Thome]. We got [Mark] Kotsay, we got [Paul] Konerko, Anybody in the outfield. Are we going to cover the home runs and on-base percentage, no. That's not going to be easy. We're going to be a different club without him. Everyone has to step it up a notch and play better. But White Flag? No. A lot of people say that.''
And in sending Jose Contreras to Colorado, the Sox sent out a pitcher that was likely not going to see the mound the final month.
That doesn't mean there wasn't a feeling of loss on Tuesday afternoon. Not of the baseball players that were traded, but of the men they were in the clubhouse.
"Not to see Jim, not see Jose, it's definitely different,'' catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "You get to seeing Jose walking around with a big smile on his face, Jim walking around doing his workout, talking pitchers with him. We have to move on, the whole organization has to move on now and see if we can get things going.''
Easier said than done.
"Forget all the ERA and wins and losses and all that other stuff,'' team captain Paul Konerko said of Contreras. "As players, we will remember a guy who was supposed to come back in June or July [from a ruptured Achilles] and he came back April 1 for his team. A lot of other people will forget that and maybe already have, but players won't.
"As far as Jim goes, we had a lot of fun on and off the field, especially off spending a lot of time. There's nothing I wish I would have done, plus we still are going to see each other. It's not a death in the family, one of those deals.
"We had some good years here. We won the division and saw him hit his 500th. There were a lot of special times. I'm not quite sure it really has set in yet. I'm still looking for him to come walking through the door, one of those deals.''
As far as picking up the pieces on the field, Carlos Torres will start in Contreras' spot on Thursday, while Jermaine Dye was the DH Tuesday night.
"If you hang around long enough in this game, you see that thing come and go,'' Guillen added. "Some times you lose people you really love and sometimes you keep people you don't like. But those two people are special people.''
More comments on the two trades:
"It is what it is. It's a crazy game. You're never too surprised with things that happen in this game anymore. Unfortunately, it happened to a guy like Jim. We wish him well and hopefully, we can have a good month of September and see what happens.''
"Yeah, you could see [Thome was emotional] a little bit. He was down when he was first told, but once he realized what was going on and with him having a chance to probably go to the World Series again, put something on his resume that he's never done, winning a World Series, he felt it would be best for his family.''
"Yeah he was great. Getting to play with Jim for four years, getting to know him on a personal level was awesome. He was one of the best people I ever played with. I'll miss having him around, I'll miss his face every day, I'll miss seeing him work his tail off every day to play a game. He'll be missed, but at the same time we have wish him the best and move on. We have to try and right the ship here the last month now.''
"I mean definitely tough to see [Thome] go. Great teammate, great guy. He was everything he was cracked up to be before he got here. It was great. As far as me with him, it's going to fall short by this month and hopefully next year. That's a pretty good amount of time as well. We did some good thing. I could always say I played with him, like everyone else in here. You play with a legend like that, it was definitely a privilege. That's the business we are in.
"Any time you win a World Series with a guy [like Jose Contreras] and I just remember all the good things with him. He always took the ball and I'll remember the fact that he came back way ahead of schedule this year. Maybe that wasn't the best thing that he should have done. I don't know that he got off to the best start he could get off to, but that was all in the name of him trying to be there for his team.''
"It's hard. That's the way baseball is. I think nobody in baseball got a chance to be a Hall of Famer, be so humble and naïve and nice and good teammates and good team guy, you name it, with Jim. I think Jim, class act, baseball people, Jim Thome should be in the top 3. In my book might be number 1. But I know there are a lot of nice people there, but Jim Thome represents the White Sox's organization very well and makes a lot of people proud to wear this uniform and a lot of great things here, on and off the field. That's what's important. And every time he put his uniform for us, he played the game right. He taught kids how to play the game right, and everyone said that every time about him. Those guys, the new kids, the rookie guys growing up and watching this guys, and prepare themselves every day to compete, they should learn a lot. No matter how many days you stay or spend here or years you spend here, this man was outstanding. And the last thing that should happen to him is that he goes to the Hall of Fame. I hope and pray Jim Thome has what he wants - and that's a championship ring. I know it was a tough decision for him to make. I'm glad his wife helped him to make that decision. We're really excited about him to do that, because it's something he always wanted.''
"Great memories [for Contreras]. And some bad memories. But good and great. I don't think we went to the World Series without him. That was a big part in our ballclub that year. Tremendous human being. Great guy. The reason he was there that long or starting every five days was because how great of a guy he was and the respect and love we gave him. And I think Jose earned that. The way he worked, the way he went about his business. He went a long way to what he was for us. I wish them both the best. Both have a good chance to win. There's nothing better than when somebody wants you. A lot of people saying we're offering people around there. Just to let you know, the guy who told me was Mark Buehrle, when I had the message from Kenny. When somebody wants you, especially two veteran guys, I think that's nice when they still want you.''