It was typical Paul Konerko.
The White Sox team captain was well thought out, he stayed away from controversy and he answered the questions without answering the questions.
As far as his future on the South Side as he is set to enter free agency this offseason? Konerko said a lot will depend on what the organization wants.
"I think where they stand right now is probably just figuring out where they want to go as a team,'' Konerko explained. "I'm kind of secondary. That goes for the other guys here who are in the same boat. Obviously it's a business, so they have to figure out payroll stuff and when they do that, then hopefully I'm in their conversation, as far as being brought back. Until then, I don't know what will happen.
"I have no sense of a market or anything like that. I don't expect anything. I don't have any illusions about anything. I just want to take it as it comes. Whatever comes my way, comes my way. I'll handle whatever comes. When you start getting into a situation where you're expecting this or I should be getting this because that guy got this, that's when you get let down and you're disappointed and you go to a place where you shouldn't go to. I just want to do what's right.''
Not only what's right for him and the team he will play for, but most importantly for his family. Konerko told the Sun-Times last week that he would have no problem following Jermaine Dye's path and sitting out an entire season if the situation wasn't right in every way.
What seems evident is that the 35-year-old is at least a $10-$14 million a year player in the market, and has indicated best-case scenario would be for him to play three more years. Add geography and playing for a team that he feels can win it all, well, let the bidding war begin.
"I'm a White Sox's, regardless if I go play somewhere else, that's what I'll be thought of, that's what I'll think of my career,'' Konerko said. "I feel like that mission has been accomplished. If I go on, I'll sleep fine at night knowing I was loyal when the time came [after the 2005 season].
"There's emotions, there will always be. If I come back and I finish my career, here, guess what? There's going to be emotions the last year. You're never going to get away from it. It's about doing what's right in that moment when it comes to make this next decision.''
Konerko did have some interesting remarks when asked about if he felt like the Sox were close to being that winning team he wants to play for.
"Strictly speaking from the talent and the guys, I believe it's a team that can fight and win,'' Konerko said. "I mean I do think that things need to get better. The Twins are a good team, a great team, and more than that they go about it the right way. You have to go out and catch them. They're not going to come back to you. With the talent and the people here we can do that if we tidy up some things and get a little better with some things and move their way, move toward them.''
Asked if tidying it up meant on or off the field, he responded, "A little bit of both, a little bit of everything. The physical play, the whole kind of, I mean we've got to up our game a little bit. It's not just about the talent on the field. It's no different than Little League. It's not always the talent that finishes first, second, third as far as who has that on paper. I do think that [the Twins] are a great team on paper, too. Probably at this moment a better team. So if you're not the better team you have to do a lot of things to catch them that are beyond the talent. That's something that will have to be addressed if they want to go in that direction.''
Manager Ozzie Guillen continued making his feelings about Konerko returning very obvious.
"Do we want it? We all do, there's no doubt,'' Guillen said. "Hopefully they get something done, we'll see what happens. That's a very, very delicate thing, a unique situation. He's a player, his number's going to be retired, he's going to have a statue here. If you look at PK's numbers and what he means to this organization, that's a pretty tough situation for everyone.''
September 2010 Archives
It was typical Paul Konerko.
John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Mark Buehrle, Jake Peavy, Edwin Jackson ... heck, throw Chris Sale's name into the mix and even the possible return of free agent-to-be Freddy Garcia, and the last concern the White Sox should have going into 2011 is the starting pitching.
Should being the key word.
This little dose of reality provided by Buehrle.
"Does that mean we're supposed to be good?'' Buehrle replied, when asked about that part of the team seemingly not a concern. "I don't know. I feel like we could be, but then again I felt like coming into this year we could be too.''
That didn't exactly work out very well, either.
"We all sucked at the beginning the first couple of months and dug us too deep a hole,'' Buehrle then said, summing up what went wrong with the starting unit. "Then I think we started pitching better than I thought we could have in those middle months and went out there and dominated, got us back into things and then kind of fell apart at the end. I don't think it was just starting pitching, it was the whole team. First month and a half we played bad, middle months we played outstanding and the last couple months we played decent, but not well enough.''
It's that thought that should keep general manager Ken Williams up a little later each night. Yes, the start was slow, but even at the Sox' best they couldn't beat the Twins. At last glance, the commissioner had no plans to remove Minnesota from the Central Division, either.
Add the extra revenue the Twins pulled in from the new Target Field and the plans to spend it, and maybe looking at the Florida Marlins job wasn't such a bad idea for manager Ozzie Guillen after all.
In typical pull-no-punches Guillen fashion, he addressed that fact on Wednesday. Asked how far he thought the Sox were behind the Twins, his first reply was "10 games and a half,'' and a laugh.
Guillen then got serious.
"Talent wise? Minnesota is going to find talent no matter where they go,'' Guillen explained. "In this division, everybody's far away from them. How far away are we right now? Very far. How far away are we next year? I don't know, but I don't think we're too far away.
"We have a pretty good pitching staff, we have kids coming up. I don't think a couple guys here on this ballclub can have worse years than they've had. With Minnesota, everything had to click and it did. [Joe] Mauer came here and had like 10 hits in 11 at-bats [in the last series]. [Nick] Blackburn, [Carl] Pavano, it all clicked for them. How far are we in the future? We have a couple guys here that are pretty young and I think we have a couple guys here that can put this ballclub at the top. We'll see what happens.''
EXTRA HELP: Carlos Quentin has vowed that he would start having more fun, but Guillen was taking a let's wait and see approach.
"I think a lot of people say he has to see somebody, a psychiatrist or psychologist,'' Guillen said. "But those guys never play baseball. What is a doctor going to tell me? He'll say, 'You are 0-for-4? Well, you finish 0-for-4 and see how you feel.'
"You have problems off the field, that's a different thing. But you have a problem on the field ... You have to get your own help. Make sure you enjoy the game and have some fun with it.'' ... Guillen said that Gordon Beckham and his injured right hand are probably done for the season.
After about five minutes of questions concerning his future, A.J. Pierzynski finally glanced at the media surrounding him and said, "You guys are talking like there's no chance I'm coming back. Apparently, you guys know something that I don't know, so fill me in.''
Actually, there isn't much to fill in. Not yet, at least.
The White Sox catcher is a free agent after the season, and the organization is set to cut some payroll before adding to the roster for the 2011 run. There had been growing speculation that the Sox were looking to do next year's product on the cheap and hope for the best, but according to one member of the organization, general manager Ken Williams might have a few tricks up his sleeve - and a few more bucks than first thought - going after a division title in '11 before they feel like they may have to take a step back and go younger in 2012.
Whether or not that involves Pierzynski, however, remains cloudy.
Victor Martinez headlines the free agent catcher class, but will cost an arm and a leg. After him, a lot of retreads. As far as in-house replacements, there's Tyler Flowers, but a lot of questions surrounding the rookie. The first being, are the Sox ready to hand a veteran staff over to him?
"It's hard for me to say anything about the kid, good or bad, because I don't have a chance to see him at all,'' manager Ozzie Guillen said of Flowers. "Even Kenny in Fall League or Minor League or Instructional League or Spring Training, it's different from being here.''
But if they felt like Flowers was the catcher for 2011, they would seemingly be playing him a lot more than they have since his September call-up.
As far as Pierzynski, Guillen made his feelings on his catcher very obvious on Tuesday.
"I know people say that they won the World Championship here once,'' Guillen explained, talking about both Pierzynski and free agent to be Paul Konerko. "They do more than that. When you win a championship, you were good one year. But those guys have been very good for a long time and very consistent. They go there every day and play the right way. People love those guys here.
"It's a decision. Whatever decision, it's not easy. When you are making a decision, you think about money. The owner of the team, you talk about money. But when you talk about playing favorites, it's a hard decision to make. I can't be an owner or GM. I would lose a lot of money because I would sign people with my heart and not my brains. Every decision we make since I've been here is to make this organization better.''
Since spring training, Pierzynski has made it very clear where he would like to be, not only next season, but where he would like to end his career.
"Everyone knows where I stand with the White Sox and the people and the city,'' Pierzynski said. "I've never said that I don't want to come back. The door is open. But we'll see what happens. It takes two to do that, make it possible. We'll see where it goes.
"I came here. I told this story many times. I signed and walked into SoxFest a week later. Coming from the Twins, it was weird to see the White Sox stuff. To see them welcome me the way they did and everything they've done in the time I've been here has been amazing, awesome. I'll always look back on my time in Minnesota, look back on my time here is great and we won a World series and done all we could do here. I'd like to stay here to continue to do that, but we'll see what happens.''
Pierzynski said he would also like to come back to a team that he feels is still committed to winning. The Sox are expected to remain loaded in the starting pitching department, and the addition of Chris Sale to either the rotation or bullpen for a full year could add to that depth.
"They've got all the talent in the world - Gavin [Floyd], John [Danks]. Sergio [Santos], Chris Sale, the White Sox pitching is very deep and they have the opportunity to be very special for a long time because they're young, they they're all healthy and they're able to win games and they all have good stuff,'' Pierzynski said. "And they all have good heads on their shoulders, which is the biggest thing.
"I was proud to say that I was able to play with them and hopefully be able to play with them.''
Call it White Sox damage control at its finest.
Last week at this time, general manager Ken Williams had just been quoted as saying he would leave his post to run the Oakland Raiders, and then questioned the dedication of manager Ozzie Guillen in a USA Today article.
Not wanting to be outdone, Guillen then brought up the fact that the Sox needed to let him know where he stood beyond the existing contract that runs through 2011 with an option, and if they couldn't, then it was time to let him out of the deal to shop elsewhere.
Williams used words like "blindsided'' by what Guillen said, and Guillen described Williams' comments to the national newspaper as "confusing.''
A private meeting with board chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and then one with Williams on Monday, however, and all that was missing was a guitar and the three singing Kumbaya.
"I asked him directly: did he want to be here? Did he want to be the manager of the Chicago White Sox?'' Williams said. "He said, 'Absolutely. That's all I've ever wanted.' He said he never asked for an extension. The timing of something wasn't commensurate with if he were to go down that road. He did want to know what his status was and I told him directly - I hope I never have another manager at least while I'm sitting in this chair, I hope I never have another manager of the Chicago White Sox other than him.''
Williams also said that if another club asks about speaking with Guillen they would be told, "Ozzie is not interested. He wants to be the manager of the Chicago White Sox.''
All that seemed to matter to Guillen was that his standing with the team was made evident in his talk with Reinsdorf, and the passion he has for the organization seems to be mutual. It wasn't a contract extension, but it was good enough.
"I made it clear my stance,'' Guillen said. "I never, never, never say I will leave Chicago with one year left on the contract and need more contract. My point was, what was my stance here? And the man and the general manager told me just continue to manage that thing and move on making this thing work, make it happen. We owe it to the people, we owe it to the fans, we owe it to the media, we owe to the players to put this thing in the right direction. And we will.
"In my point, my side, we will move in the right direction. I promise you that. Today is Sept. 27. You can ask me two weeks, 10 weeks later. I promise everything has to be in the past and move on. And will move on, and we know we're going to move on with the right direction and right attitude and that's what I want.''
A key in what Guillen wanted to hear was an assurance that his future business plan that he has in the works would not only be allowed by the club, but he would be in Chicago to carry it out.
Last week, he said that the club's word simply wouldn't be good enough, but whatever they told him on Monday obviously was.
"I got more than that,'' Guillen said. "They're not going to extend my contract. But one thing about it, it's not a personal problem because I'm making a business investment in Chicago. I want to know, 'hey, I'm doing this.' And we cleared it out and I'm fine. They can fire me next year. That's cool. But my business in Chicago, doing what I want to do, I'll continue and good to go.''
Guillen was also give word that his coaching staff can stay intact, which was also important to the manager.
"My coaching staff, they're going to be here as long as I'm here,'' Guillen said. "If they're not here, I leave. I made it very clear. I know people are going to say, 'Wow, here we go with Ozzie again.' No. I love the way they work; I love their work ethic.''
The one coach he could lose is bench coach Joey Cora, but that's because Cora is expected to be sought after for a managerial position.
Finally, Guillen said he and Williams addressed their on-going problems, and the hope was the bad feelings are behind them.
"It's one thing, better than yesterday, hopefully worse than tomorrow,'' Guillen said of the relationship. "We have work to do. Not on the field. Not about our work ethic is very good. What we do, what we get paid to do is very good. We're going to get better about stuff happening in the past. Communication is going to be better. Hopefully everything goes back to normal. How normal it's going to be? It will take a little while. But that's what we want. That's what he wants. That's what I want. I guess that's what our family needs. Everything will move forward, for good.''
ANAHEIM, Calif. - Mark Kotsay wasn't about to apologize for his 2010 season.
Does the veteran designated-hitter/infielder wish he could have had a better start to the year? Absolutely. Maybe then what's left of this regular season would have had more meaning. Maybe there would still be a pennant race between the Sox and the Central Division-winning Twins. Maybe the front office wouldn't be in the complete disarray it now seems to be in.
So many maybes to dwell on with seven game left.
Kotsay, however, would rather focus on what the DH-by-committee helped accomplish rather than a bunch of what should have beens, and in his eyes the criticism of him being a key piece in the failure of that DH role is missing the big picture.
"Anytime you have an unsuccessful season, the finger gets pointed in every direction that it can be,'' Kotsay said. "A failure? I think they're generalizing it by strictly just putting the number together.''
The number that stuck out as far as Kotsay critics were concerned was the .108 April batting average. Opinion was already made at that point. It didn't matter what Kotsay did after that.
"If you look at the whole year from a Mark Kotsay standpoint it's been criticism from the get-go,'' Kotsay admitted. "I didn't get off to a good start, I got buried, I slowly got myself out of that hole when the team was having success in the winning portion of the season, but even in that turnaround there was always talk that we needed a left-handed bat.
"Hey, you know what, it's been the whole season. I think I was able to carry myself in a professional manor and realize, 'Yeah, my success as a whole, if I evaluate my whole year, it's not nearly where I wanted it to end.' But I think I battled, I think I fought the whole season.''
The numbers Kotsay chose to focus on was the fact that the team went 27-18 when he was the starting DH, as well as what the DH-by-committee allowed for players like Paul Konerko, Juan Pierre, Carlos Quentin, Alex Rios and even Mark Teahen when he came back from his injury.
The other side of that was Sox designated hitters entered the finale with the Angels hitting .244 with 17 homers [tied for 10th in the American League] and 60 RBI [13th in the AL].
"We were able to give Paul the DH position and hopefully most people would say that the first base position was played quite well defensively [between Konerko and Kotsay],'' Kotsay said. "J.P. [Pierre] was an iron man, so he played almost every day in left field. Right field with Carlos, I mean Carlos played in as many games as he has in three seasons, so obviously [getting work as the DH] helped Carlos and his ability to stay on the field and stay healthy. Paul hasn't had an injury all season, he's been on the field and been healthy.
"All those things factor into the big picture. But when there's failure it's easy to say, 'This is what happened.' ''
Konerko said last month that the days he DH-ed played a key factor in him feeling fresh at the plate through most of the season, and he had MVP-type numbers to back it up, with the team captain entering this week with a .313 average, 38 home runs and 106 RBI. Was it because of that extra rest? That's up for debate.
What can't be debated was the uneasiness general manager Ken Williams had been with the DH-by-committee idea since January, until he finally stepped in and did something about it at the end of August, acquiring Manny Ramirez through waivers and picking up the $3.8 million the slugger was owed over the final month.
The result of that move was one homer, two RBI and a .242 average in 21 games for Ramirez. In other words, not a lot changed.
Since the Ramirez acquisition, Kotsay has played sparingly. In going 1-for-4 as the first baseman in Sunday's win, however, he was hitting .310 over his last 27 games. A very quiet .310, as Kotsay knows that his run with the Sox is likely over.
"From a personal standpoint my future probably doesn't lie in Chicago ... '' Kotsay said at the start of the Angels series, seemingly ready to clean the slate and ride off into free agency.
The debate over whether the DH-by-committee was a failure or not? That likely won't be going away anytime soon.
ANAHEIM, Calif. - It's now reached the point where no one is even real sure how it all started.
Was it SoxFest in January? Was it TwitterGate in the spring? Was it blow-up argument No. 1 or No. 2? All the talk now is how it will finish, and if Saturday was any indication, it didn't sound like it will end very well.
Unable to escape the questions surrounding his future as White Sox manager, Ozzie Guillen continued to partake in the latest game of chicken with general manager Ken Williams, and from what it sounds like, Williams with the backing of board chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.
The latest revelation from Guillen was not only a change of uniform, but the idea that he is no longer against wearing Cubbie colors if it comes down to it.
Guillen's stance had always been that he would never leave the Sox for the Cubs unless "Jerry Reinsdorf'' was dead. No longer.
"If Jerry don't want me, yes,'' Guillen said. "My position was I would never sign another place and leave the White Sox for the Cubs because of the respect for Jerry. But if Jerry is leaving me? I not leaving them, they are leaving me. Then, I have a choice to make. Everything is out there.
"As soon as you get divorced, you are free to do whatever you want. Yes, I will, not because I say I'm going there but because they don't want me. Before I say it, I'm not going to leave this place just to punch you guys in the nose. But if you don't want me and someone else wants me, I have to make the decision.
"But my first, second and third choice is staying with the White Sox, with this organization for one reason: the love I have for the players, the respect I have for the organization and because my wife want to stay in Chicago.''
All three can change, however.
It's been a roller coaster ride for Guillen and his future all week, first when Williams came out on Monday and told USA Today, "I want people that want to be here ... If [Guillen] wants to go, he can. If he wants to see if there is another situation better than this, I won't stop him.''
Guillen told the Sun-Times that he was "confused'' that Williams would say that, especially since Williams preaches keeping "under, under the radar.'' So feeling like he was put in check, Guillen went on the offensive, insisting that if the Sox wanted him to stay then they should let him know where he stands.
That continued before the second game of the Angels series.
"I never deny I want to be here,'' Guillen explained. "I never deny I want to finish my career here. But like I say, it can be my decision, but it's up to what we're going to do, what they want to do, what they're looking for. And what they want for me. That's all I want.
"I think I'm doing a good job here. Good enough to at least have consideration. But in the meanwhile, we will find out next week what's for real out there. Like I said [Friday], I never asked for an extension. Never asked for another contract. The only thing I asked, like everyone else, what they think about me, what they want from me, what's my situation here. That's all I ask.''
There are growing rumors that Florida would be a destination for Guillen, but the manager was dancing around that speculation, saying he wouldn't hold the Sox hostage like that.
He was also asked if he felt like Reinsdorf was picking Williams over him, and said, "I don't know. You have to ask him. I think Kenny's job is harder than mine. He's involved with a lot of things. You have to ask Jerry who he's going to pick. Nobody has to pick me: I'm not a piece of corn or a strawberry. I'm a human being.
"If you want me here for good because you need me, I'll stay. If not, I'll move on. I know there are people who think 'If we let Ozzie go, what are we going to face next.' There might be hurt for two weeks and then everything is over with. I have another uniform and they have another guy.''
The million-dollar question now is what uniform will Guillen have on in 2011?
ANAHEIM, Calif. - It wasn't Ozzie Guillen clearing the air, as much as making sure that line in the sand is very clearly drawn.
The White Sox manager was asked on Friday about the on-going drama concerning his future on the South Side, and reiterated that this is the organization he wants to stay with. It's more about making sure the feeling is mutual.
"It's a funny thing because I never asked for an extension,'' Guillen said. "You guys asked me if I want one. Well, everyone does. Everybody. Even you, you ... everybody. The funny thing about it is people sound as if I asked for an extension. I never did. Because I have one. I have a contract. My thing is, every year, every manager, every player, they want to know what's my stance. That's it. That's what I want to know. Maybe it's a good one. Maybe it's a bad one. But I like to know.
"I guarantee anyone I'm not going and say, 'listen, this is what I want. This is what I need. I just want to know what we think and what's my position,' and then we see what happens.''
As far as the organization's stance that Guillen has one-year contract and an option for 2012, the seventh-year skipper wasn't upset about that.
"If people want to think I want to know about losing my job, they're wrong,'' Guillen said. "I don't worry about losing any job. Do I want to lose it? No. I make it clear every day. This is the team I want to be [with] the rest of my life. But this is a business. But no, I don't worry about anything. Most of the stuff is about my family. Most of the stuff is about what we're up to, what's our plan. I got a budget, I got a family to take care of. I plan to stay in Chicago in the winter. No matter what, I will stay in Chicago. And that's why I want to make sure when we start making plans for our family. And If people don't believe in family, well, I believe in family. I think my family is more important than baseball, and it always going to be. That's why I want to know what's in the plan.''
Guillen wants to find this out sooner than later, too. Which means either talking to board chairman Jerry Reinsdorf this week - the last week of the season - or just after the season ends.
But what if he is told that what's on the table for him is all that will be on the table for him? Is that good enough for Guillen at this point?
"Well, then I talk to my family to see what they think,'' Guillen said. "I'm not going to make my decision just by my feelings. Maybe I say, 'OK, let's go another year, and we'll see what happens.' I'll be working here or there or somewhere. I might not be managing, but I'll be making money out of baseball. Easy. I want to be managing, of course. But in the meanwhile, if they say that and then I make my decision in what I decide to do. But in the meanwhile, that has to go through my family first.''
Meanwhile, with any chance of the postseason now out of reach, even the players have taken notice of how this game of chicken will end.
"They've conducted themselves in here as any two human beings that have had ups and downs would,'' veteran Mark Kotsay said. "I think they've done it, for the most part, out of the scope and I think they will continue to do that as the next 10 days unfold.''
Kotsay said he was interested to see what the end-game was in all of this, but considering he's a free agent, anything that happens after next week likely won't play a direct role in his 2011.
"From a personal standpoint my future probably doesn't lie in Chicago, so I kind of don't pay attention,'' Kotsay said. "But the guys who have futures here in Chicago, a Gordon Beckham, Chris Sale, [Mark] Buehrle, [Jake] Peavy, [John] Danks, [Gavin] Floyd ... if I was them I would be paying attention to it. Whether or not the reality is pictured through the media or whether it is pictured as something in here, that's probably what each guy has to ask themselves.''
OAKLAND - In Greg Walker's perfect world, Paul Konerko will get a new deal to stay with the White Sox, finish his career on the South Side, and then have a bronze statue in his likeness on that outfield concourse of The Cell, forever a franchise legend.
Actually, the only part the hitting coach left out was the idea of Konerko riding off into the sunset.
Konerko, a free agent-to-be, sees himself playing three more years, but if he's not given the type of deal he wants this offseason, he has no problem thanking everyone and calling it a career.
The 34-year-old insisted throughout the season that he had a ton of respect for former teammate Jermaine Dye, and the fact that Dye insisted he would only sign with a team under the right conditions. Those conditions never came, and Dye stuck to his guns.
Asked if Konerko would follow suit if his conditions weren't met, the team captain replied, "I would say yeah. I would hope I'm in that place to say that because when you say that you have good perspective on ... you know anytime you need something that's when you can get into trouble. So I would like to think that I have it all in perspective that I think you get to a point in your career where for the most part when you sign when you're 18 years old, the majority of the rest of your career is something you have to do. That's a way to make a living and that's something you have to do. You get to the point, and I think that's where I am now, where it's not something I have to do, it's something I get to do. It's a privilege to go out and play, and I get to do it.
"You start seeing it in a different way than you did most of your professional career. That's a good place to be. I think I'm still productive, I think I can still do the job out in the field. It's definitely a combination of saying, 'Well, I feel like I'm still doing the job, well you play,' that with, 'OK, I have a family, a couple of kids, what do I really want to do in the real world?' Those two things kind of collide when you get a little older.
"I do know this: once you're 50 years old, if you decide you want to play again, it's probably a little too late. So the window is small. Once you kind of get out, it's tough to get back in. I would hope that I have enough perspective where, the game of baseball has been great, it's been great for me, and I've worked hard at it and been good to the game, but I think I've had enough to where if I was out of the game for whatever reason, it's not something that ... I'll have other things going on, you know.''
There can be an argument made that this was one of Konerko's best seasons, considering the 37 homers, 105 RBI, the defense at first, but also the leadership role he took with the younger players on the roster.
And Konerko appreciated Walker's comments about the statue, but as far as he was concerned, he's already on the one statue that matters.
"Anytime you're in a place, this is my 12th year, and you know you don't have too much longer left in the game, maybe a couple of years, three years, who knows, it seems that's the sentiment that most people want, to finish up with the same team that you've been with, but to be honest, the statue I got out in front [celebrating the 2005 World Series run] with the rest of the guys is the one that matters,'' Konerko said. "That's not to take away anything from any of the other guys that have [statues on the outfield concourse], but if the first thing doesn't happen we'll always have that one out in front and to me that's the one that holds the most weight in my mind.''
Konerko headlines a Sox free agent class that also includes catcher A.J. Pierzynski and pitcher Freddy Garcia.
If it were up to manager Ozzie Guillen, all three would be back for 2011.
"Those guys mean a lot to this franchise, but this is a business and business sometimes when you talk about business you want to talk through your heart,'' Guillen said. "When you make decisions you have to talk with your brain and what's best for the ballclub, what's the best for the fans and what's good over all. I don't know what's going to happen to them. I hope they're coming back, but in the meanwhile, years, money, talks, I don't want to get involved in that because I don't have to.''
OAKLAND - Neither board chairman Jerry Reinsdorf or White Sox general manager Ken Williams felt the need to discuss the idea of Ozzie Guillen's future on Tuesday.
All Williams would say is, "the man [Guillen] has a contract for next season.''
Through a team spokesman, Reinsdorf was asked about the broken relationship between Williams and Guillen and said he was "not going to discuss this publicly.''
As far as the idea of giving Guillen - who is signed through 2011 with an option for 2012 - a contract extension at the end of the year, Reinsdorf said, "There have been no discussions of an extension during the season.''
Guillen's hope is that will change once 2010 is over, however.
"I have a one-year contract back in Chicago, everyone knows exactly what I want,'' Guillen said. "But I keep saying this is a business and I will be in Chicago as long as they want me here because the White Sox are part of my life. I'm 46 years old and maybe been working for the White Sox for 25 years. That's a lot of years. In the meanwhile, the rumors about I'm going somewhere, that's good because at least someone wants me in the paper.
"It's a one-year contract and we'll see. As soon as the season is over I will talk to Kenny and Jerry and see what is my future here, what they want, what they want to do. I hope I'm in the plans, but if not this is a business. If they're going to go with me, I love it. If not, that's part of the game.''
There has been growing speculation that Guillen would be courted by the Florida Marlins, and there is also the idea that he would be a big hit on television if he wanted some time away from managing.
"It's important to me to know where I stand,'' Guillen said. "Not for me, but more for my family. To let us all see, 'OK, we're going to be in Chicago another month or we're going to be in Chicago another six years.' That's very important for me to clear my mind from what is my next step, what should I do? Of course it's very important. That's why I'm going to go out there and take the risk, ask, and maybe I don't get good news.''
If the news isn't good?
"It's not the first time [Williams is] going to fire somebody, it's not his first time,'' Guillen said. "I think Kenny has a very tough job, so does Jerry. If they say, 'we're not going to do this,' they're not going to hurt my feelings, they won't.''
OAKLAND - It's that time of year.
Where some believed truths are nothing more than rumors, and some rumors have a whole lot of truth to them.
It's a climate Greg Walker has become very familiar with over the past few seasons.
So it came as no surprise to the White Sox hitting coach that there was talk brewing that he would step down after the season, despite having a year left on his current contract.
"No, every year I evaluate it at the end of the year,'' Walker responded on Monday, when asked flat-out if he was calling it quits. "I've got a contract here next year, every year I sit down with ... first of all [manager] Ozzie [Guillen] has expressed that he wants me to come back, so that's an option. I always sit down with [board chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] and see if he's happy with the way things are going. But no, I haven't made any decisions one way or the other at all. There are so many rumors floating around right now.''
What Walker would admit to was that yes, he was physically and mentally exhausted from this season, especially the beating he took in the court of fan opinion at the start of the season.
"It takes so much out of me physically and mentally these years, from the first day of spring training, pretty much like it does every guy in this room,'' Walker explained. "That's why you don't make decisions this time of year. Everyone is frustrated because we didn't finish it off this year. All I know is I have a contract next year and Ozzie wants me back. You have to sit down with your family and talk, there are a lot of things that go into it.''
Since taking over the position in May of 2003, Walker-coached offenses have put up historic franchise numbers, leading the major leagues in homers in both 2006 and 2008.
When the team started slowly out of the gate in April and May, he was once again under scrutiny, despite his resume.
Not that Walker was surprised.
"My skin has gotten very thick in that regard, but at times you wish that you would have built up a little more good will here because we have done some pretty neat things here over the years,'' Walker said. "And I think at times, I don't know if it's to sell tickets or what, but I think we've told people that at times we were a little more talented than what we were on a given year or maybe we just misjudged it. I know last year, you looked up at a given time and we had Chris Getz and Josh Fields hitting one-two a month into the season, and Brian Anderson and DeWayne Wise [in the lineup]. Nothing against those guys, but they just weren't ready to handle those roles. ... I don't know if we were that good a team last year.
"This year, I felt like we were. For about three months we were as good as it got. Most smart people could look at the numbers and see what happened, but the main thing that happened was the Minnesota Twins are really good and they kicked our rear ends.''
There are other factors involved in Walker's decision, as well.
He isn't the only rumor of the day as far as the Sox. It's no secret that general manager Ken Williams and Guillen have as wide a disconnect as the two have had in their seven-year relationship as GM and manager, and what if Guillen is elsewhere after the season?
"I'll use commonsense,'' Walker said of that scenario. "Like I said, I take one year at a time. I've always said I don't want to be here if they don't want me here and they've always expressed that they do want me here. Jerry just insists every year that I come back, and he might change his mind. I don't think so. Every year it's a decision to be made and I don't make it during the season.
"If it's out there otherwise, it's not true. But I haven't told them that I was coming back, either. The year after we won the World Series I didn't know if I was coming back, so it's a year-to-year job.''
Six weeks ago, Ozzie Guillen was asked by a local Minnesota writer if the Twins were the best team he had seen this season.
The White Sox manager quickly fired back a "no, because I know what you want me to say. But New York, Tampa ... no.''
On Thursday, Guillen was having a change of heart.
"The way [the Twins] play baseball, yes,'' Guillen said. "I haven't played against Tampa or New York for a little while, Texas. But the way they play right now, yes. Good baseball wins games, not good talent. They put everything together. They made a couple nice plays, they got the ugliest hits anybody can see. They've got six of the ugliest hits I've seen in a long time. We hit five balls right on the nose and they turned into double plays. There's nothing you can do about it. That's the way it is.''
Guillen then brought up the fact that they have been without closer Joe Nathan all year long, while former American League MVP Justin Morneau has been on the shelf half the season with post-concussion problems.
Yet, a player like Danny Valencia, who played in the same conference as Guillen's oldest son, Ozzie Jr., in high school, has come from nowhere to put together a monster year at third base.
"They go and get this kid Valencia,'' Guillen said. "When you play against Ozzie Guillen Jr. in the same division in high school, you're very horse[bleep] because Ozzie Guillen Jr. is not going to choose any good conference to play baseball. And this [Valencia] kid is a superstar [for the Twins]. The second baseman [Orlando Hudson] was looking for a job [in the winter]. The left fielder [Delmon Young] ... A lot of people talk about other stuff, look at the left fielder, the year he's had. All the pitchers. Those guys don't have the names, but they pitch good.''
Time for a break
Gordon Beckham told the Sun-Times on Wednesday that his injured right hand was still not cooperating, and there was a scenario being discussed where he would be shut down for the rest of the season once the Sox were mathematically eliminated from the race.
Guillen wasn't about to wait that long.
Beckham was out of the starting lineup on Thursday, with Omar Vizquel starting at second and rookie Brent Morel getting the nod at third base.
"I don't like the way he swings the bat,'' Guillen said of his second-year player. "Obviously he wants to play, but I've seen this kid swing the bat for a year and a half and I know his hand is not even 80 percent. He's wasting at-bats. He's not 100 percent out there to try to help us and that's why I shut it down for a couple of days to see how the treatment gets him back. The problem with that is you feel good one day then one swing it comes back again.''
The pain in Gordon Beckham's hand is telling him - at times screaming at him - to go ahead and shut it down for the rest of the year.
The standings, however, are telling him to gut it out.
"It is what it is,'' the White Sox second baseman admitted on Wednesday. "It hurts, yeah. It bothers me more when I have to use my top hand a little bit. When I can just let the bat drop into place, it's OK because I don't really use a lot of my top hand, but the problem is I don't have much lag in my bat, I can't get out there and say, 'Oh, hold on,' and then go. It's more like I'm going and if it's not ... it's going to be a struggle from now until the end of the year because every day, the first 10 swings I take in batting practice are pretty painful. It's almost like a muscle that loosens up a little bit when I get some pills in me during the game, and then I don't feel it as bad.''
Beckham was hit in the hand back on Aug. 30 in Cleveland, and has missed eight games in the aftermath of it.
Manager Ozzie Guillen even visited with Beckham before Game 2 of the Twins series and wanted to find out where he was at, and if he needed a breather.
"No, until it's over, if it gets to where we don't have a chance, I guess we'll make the call then,'' Beckham said of the shutting it down scenario. "I don't think it's something that will get worse by playing.''
The other incentive for Beckham to hang in there? The way he sees it, as bad as his start of the 2010 season was, he still owes the team that. Since hitting .205 through the first 10 weeks or so, Beckham has turned it around. Over his last 51 games, he was actually hitting .328 with 14 doubles, seven homers and 29 RBI.
"Obviously if I didn't hit so terribly, I would say through the first two and a half months, I think we would have had a better chance [at the division],'' he said. "There were a lot of times I got up and didn't get the big hit. I know I'm capable of doing that.
"Overall, when I do look back at this season, I will say it was a positive season for me from the sole fact that I got out of the worst slump in my life, the worst mental place I've been in my life. To get out of that, to comeback from it, the second half has been great because it's what I'm capable of doing. Now I just need to put it together for a whole year.
"Hopefully, 10 years from now I can say it was statistically my worst season.''
Chris Sale can get used to this.
Not just life in the big leagues for the 21-year-old, but life as a White Sox reliever.
The question now facing the southpaw is what about next season and beyond? When the club drafted him out of Florida Gulf Coast University just over three months ago, they were drafting a starting pitcher that went 11-0 with a 2.01 ERA, as well as 146 strikeouts in 17 games.
But with the bullpen short a lefty to help out Matt Thornton, Sale was given a shot to help out and has not only taken off, he's dominated.
And while most starters turned relievers still have that starter itch that needs to be scratched, Sale surprisingly likes his new job description.
"Oh yeah, I'm having a blast,'' Sale said Tuesday. "When you come in ... our [bullpen coach] Juan Nieves down in the bullpen stresses to us that there is no waste in it. If you're up 12 or down 12, tied ballgame, up one, down one, at any point you throw is still important. So it's up to us to go out there and attack it like it's the most important thing you have to do. That's where my head is now and it's been working pretty well.''
The Sox do have a plan for Sale, but are yet to show their hand. With Bobby Jenks likely getting a change of address this offseason, Sale could be being groomed as the closer for 2011.
The other option is he could be the next lefty starter, especially with Mark Buehrle a free agent after 2011.
"The issue hasn't come up, we haven't talked about it,'' Sale said. "But obviously whatever they ask me to do I'm going to do. Whether they want me to transition to a starter next year, whether they want to keep me as a reliever, I'm pretty much game for whatever.
"Pitching is pitching and I'll attack it the same way, no matter how they feel about it.''
Two steps back
Freddy Garcia and Jenks each threw on Tuesday to test their injuries out and see where they were at as far as returning.
The news wasn't good for either.
Garcia, who was scheduled to start Saturday against Detroit, was still feeling some pain in the back area, and cut it short to get more treatment. The veteran pitcher has already received an epidural to help with the pain, and said he had no plans to get a second one.
"One was enough,'' Garcia said.
If Garcia can't go, the Sox will choose between the three-headed monster of Lucas Harrell, Carlos Torres or Tony Pena.
As far as Jenks, he was still feeling some tightness in his right forearm, not that manager Ozzie Guillen seemed concerned.
"He's not in my mind, that's how far away he is,'' Guillen said of Jenks. "I don't know where he is right now or how he feels. He has to throw a bullpen and then after that we have to decide what we do with him.''
DETROIT - Mark Teahen will get another look at third base. Just not on Thursday, and definitely not with his confidence currently shaken.
After committing two throwing errors in Wednesday's loss to Detroit, Teahen was not only out of the starting third base job in the series finale, but out of the starting lineup all together.
That meant rookie Brent Morel was given the starting nod.
So what next with Teahen, who was acquired from Kansas City in the winter and then immediately given a three-year, $14-million deal before stepping one cleat on the field?
"We'll move him around,'' White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I'm not saying I'm going to take him out of third base because you may see him back at third base again. I'm not going to try and take the confidence away from the kid. My worry is how confident you are when they hit the ball to you. I still have confidence in him. He will be back at third base, he will be.
"I played the game and I know when you don't have confidence. The worst thing you can think is, 'Please don't hit the ball to me.' I'm not going to punish a guy or make the point of, 'Oh you don't play good defense then you don't play for us,' no. In the meanwhile, I will think about how much do you want the ball hit to you? That's the worst thing that can happen. It happened to me at the end of my career - 'Please don't hit it here, fly ball, don't hit it here.' I know mentally if you hit a fly ball I was going to miss it. That happened to me in the World Series with Atlanta and New York. I was the best shortstop catching fly balls and all of a sudden I couldn't catch a fly ball. I know that can happen. I hope that doesn't happen to him.''
Wednesday's defensive lapses for Teahen weren't isolated. They've actually been a trend this season. Teahen had started 49 games at third and has 10 errors. Only Alexei Ramirez (17) and Gordon Beckham (12) had more, and both have played at least 122 games this season.
Guillen's advice to Teahen is simple.
"Go play, go play,'' Guillen said. "Want the ball, want the ball hit to you and just go get it. That's all you can do. I'm telling you, when you don't want to go to the plate, you always come up when it's a big at-bat. When you don't catch the ball, that ball will find you someway, somehow. Am I worried about it, yes, I am worried about it that it doesn't get in his mind. I'm worried that it will get in his mind like, 'Please don't hit it to me,' because the baseball Gods will find you.''
As far as Morel, his approach was not to over-think his first major-league start, and the fact that it was coming in a pennant race.
"I know what I did to get up here and what I can do to help the team win,'' Morel said.
DETROIT - Jim Thome can keep hitting all the Herculean home runs he wants the rest of the season.
That won't change the fact that White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen isn't losing one minute of sleep over the fact that he and the organization made the decision to go in a different direction with the left-handed hitter in the offseason, opening the door for him to sign with the Central Division-rival Twins.
"I don't know about the organization,'' Guillen responded on Wednesday, when asked if he was feeling the heat with that decision now. "Myself, I know he's going to hit. Maybe the fans do. Maybe the media does. I really don't put attention to that. I don't. He had big hits for a lot of people. He had big hits for us. I don't put any attention to that. I don't.
"If it's not Thome then it's going to be [Justin] Morneau. Jim is playing just because Morneau is not there. And I'm glad for Jimmy. Believe me, I'm very glad for him, I'm very happy for him. He proved people he could still play. I never said we thought he couldn't play anymore. I'm very, very happy for him. All those people can say whatever they want to say. I keep my head up. I go by what we think, what we feel was better for the ballclub.''
Thome wanted to come back to the South Side in January, but the organization felt that a DH-by-committee was better suited for the make-up of the team. At least it started off as the organization. Then during SoxFest, general manager Ken Williams inexplicably threw the decision onto Guillen's lap in a town hall meeting. Guillen decided to stick to the plan, going with a rotating DH that would involve Mark Kotsay, Andruw Jones, Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin and even Juan Pierre at times.
Now that spot belongs to Manny Ramirez, while Thome has excelled with Morneau still on the shelf because of post-concussions symptoms.
"We're not in second place right now because of Jimmy,'' Guillen continued. "We're in second place right now because Minnesota play good and we have two very bad months. We played good without Jimmy and we played bad without Jimmy. That's the way it is. If people want to ... I said two months ago, if Chicago fans, if White Sox fans want to blame somebody and they want to point the finger at me, I'll take it. I'm big enough. I'm enough man to take it I've been criticized before and when you're the manager, that's not the last time you'll be criticized.
"They can say 'Blame it on Ozzie.' Why not? I will take the blame. Believe me, if the Minnesota Twins win, it's a team effort. It's not just Jim Thome. Did Jim help? Yes he did, a lot. I'm glad for him. The ballclub, if you look at spring training, once again, if you look at the starting rotation ... who's those guys? The second baseman [Orlando Hudson] was looking for a job all over the place. The shortstop, everybody go, '[J.J.] Hardy who?' Those guys are playing well for them. ... Well, if they want to look at all those things and throw them away and blame Ozzie for not having Jim Thome, well they can do that. I'm fine with that.''
DETROIT - It isn't often that Gordon Beckham doesn't have a smile on his face.
That's why it was obvious on Tuesday that the White Sox second-year second baseman was experiencing some high levels of concern with a right hand that was hit by a pitch on Aug. 30, and still not showing signs of improving.
The pain became so bad before Game 2 of the Tigers series that Beckham was scratched from the start with no timetable for a return.
"I'm not sure if we'll get it looked at again or not,'' Beckham said. "It's interesting because it seems like it hurts in a different place every day. The pain just moves around my hand. It's frustrating because the first thing we looked at said it's not broken. You would think it would be feeling a little bit better. So I don't know. I don't know what we're going to do or anything.
"I can't swing a bat like I'm capable of so I have to get out of there. I've got to give our team the best chance to win and I don't feel like ... I can't really hold on to the bat. You need both hands to swing.''
Beckham initially was given four days off to rest the hand when it happened in Cleveland, returning Saturday in Boston. He was still receiving treatment, but Tuesday was a setback. To what extent? That remains to be seen.
"Obviously, you're concerned when it hurts,'' Beckham said. "I'm not really sure what's going on. I don't know why the pain is jumping from different places. There's not much I can do about it. I think I just have to rest it and hopefully it'll get better. I don't know.''
Manager Ozzie Guillen felt confident that there were enough bodies to hold down the fort for a short time, and his hope was that Beckham would be back sooner than later.
"Well, we got people out there,'' Guillen said. "Other guys have to step it up. This kid [Beckham] has been playing very good for us. We still have people there who can help us. I don't think it's going to be anything of that magnitude where he'll be out 15 or 20 days. I hope not.''
For now, Guillen will lean on Omar Vizquel at second base, with Mark Teahen at third. With the rosters expanded, he also has Brent Lillibridge, Brent Morel and Dayan Viciedo as options.
As for Beckham, he's hoping that a few more days of rest will do the trick, as he would love nothing more than the chance to build on a .333 batting average with 14 doubles and seven home runs over his last 47 games.
DETROIT - Sooner or later, one of them has to blink.
The White Sox were hoping Sunday would be that day for the Minnesota Twins. Then they watched one of the more bizarre calls of the season bail the Central Division leaders out of a ninth-inning jam, as Texas third base coach Dave Anderson was called for interfering with Michael Young for the final out of the game and a 6-5 Twins win.
"Only thing missing was the Metrodome,'' Sox team captain Paul Konerko joked on Monday, pointing out the fact that the Twins are no strangers to fortunate wins over the years, especially when they played in the friendly confines of the dome.
Obviously, the move outdoors to Target Field hasn't changed much. The Twins are leading and the Sox are chasing.
"Yeah, I would say a little bit,'' John Danks responded, when asked if it was getting frustrating to know the Sox are playing so well, but barely closing the gap. "[Minnesota's] playing a tough team like Texas, you would expect Texas to be able to take at least one off of them, but they're a good team and they're playing well right now. We just have to take care of business.''
As much business as they can take care of feeling like Minnesota simply won't slip up. Sunday was just the latest reminder of that, after the Sox fought back to beat Boston and were looking for some help from Texas. Then it was snatched away in the ninth, just when Texas was rallying.
"It's pretty rare but you learn something new all the time in this game,'' Danks said of the play with Young. "I didn't even know that it was possible to win like that, but ... it's tough. Good teams find ways to win, but we just have to stay within striking distance. We have a big series with them coming up.''
A week away to be exact, as the Twins and Sox are scheduled to face each other just once more this season - a three-game showdown on the South Side beginning on Tuesday.
"I think it's bringing the best out in both teams,'' Konerko said of the race. "We're hanging in there. It's definitely easy to get discouraged when the team is winning a lot and you feel like you're playing well and not moving. It's why it's so tough.
"That's why when it's 162, when you do win the division, the three times we have it's such a great feeling because you feel like it's the hardest thing to do. It's such a battle all year. It should be hell. It should be tough. For us ... it's still very, very possible, but the numbers are shrinking. At some point, hopefully we make a move. But I think it's bringing the best out in both teams. Like I said two, three, six months ago, it will probably come down to the last week, the last weekend. That's what we hope.''
And while the Sox players can say that they have put the Twins in the back of their minds, only focused on the series they are currently playing in, the truth is that Minnesota is very much in the forefront.
J.J. Putz was discussing the current four-game series with the Tigers, and guess where his thoughts drifted?
"Detroit's going to give us everything they've got,'' Putz said, "and then we've got the showdown with Minnesota, which might be the make or break series. It would be nice if [the Twins] would hit a skid in the next four or five days and we can have the chance to win out, but all we can do is win games.''
Actually, the Sox play the Tigers and then have three games with the Royals.
Then there was injured pitcher Jake Peavy talking about how far the Sox have come since their slow start.
"We just need someone to beat Minnesota, that's the bottom line, can someone help us out?'' Peavy said. "It would be nice to be a couple games closer before we have that big series against them [next week]. We got to take two-of-three, and three-of-three would be even better.''
Meanwhile, manager Ozzie Guillen might have the smartest approach. Guillen said he wakes up every morning putting it into his mind that Minnesota has already won that day.
"Mentally I always say we need wins,'' Guillen said. "It's nice when [the Twins] lose, but the way things are going for them I expect to be close enough in the pennant race when we face them. I don't expect anybody to go out there and do us a favor. In the meanwhile, we wish they'd lose. But we just have to continue to play the way we are and take it for the best.''
BOSTON - Jake Peavy would like to tell his front office, his teammates and all of White Sox Nation that he will be fine come spring training, that go ahead an pencil him into that Opening Day starting rotation for 2011.
But in the straight-shooting world of Peavy, that's not something he can do with 100 percent confidence.
He likes the results of the surgery he underwent to repair the detached lat in his right shoulder. He is confident in the rehab schedule that lies in front of him the next five months. He even likes the pit bull mentality he is taking into that rehab.
The reality, however, is there is still a lot of uncertainty that comes from this injury. Considering the Sox owe Peavy $16 million in 2011 and then $17 million for 2012, there's also a lot of nail-biting.
"I don't really know and I don't think the doctors really know,'' Peavy said of his return to the mound. "They expect me to make a full recovery but said a lot of this is uncharted territory. They think it will be the case, and we hope that will be the case, but at the end of the day nobody can say, 'At this point and time, you're going to feel this way.' ''
Peavy was actually discussing his prognosis with former Braves great John Smoltz before Sunday's game with the Red Sox, with Smoltz now a broadcaster for TBS. One of the main topics was where Peavy would be for the start of 2011.
"Smoltzie and I were just talking in here, and Smoltzie had Tommy John, so he said, 'It must be hard because with Tommy John you know on Day 48 you need to be making this many tosses from 40 feet,' '' Peavy explained. "That uncertainty that I have is the kicker here that we just don't know.
"I feel very confident that I will start my throwing program at the beginning of the year. I mean I don't want to miss anymore time than I have to, but at the same time we got to make sure we take things the right way.''
Sox general manager Ken Williams has been very optimistic that Peavy will be up and running in 2011, and up and running for the start of the season. At the same time, he also said that the team's hope was to be able to re-sign free agent-to-be Freddy Garcia in the offseason, and actually take six starting pitchers into camp with Peavy, Edwin Jackson, Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd, John Danks and Garcia all in the mix.
Add to the fact that rookie Chris Sale will likely begin the season in the minor leagues, converted back to the starting pitcher he was in college, there will be some flexibility.
Peavy didn't fault his GM for making sure the rotation was insulated.
"I did have major surgery and we have to make sure that I didn't take any steps back,'' Peavy said. "We have to be cautious and if that means take a couple extra weeks in spring training to get going ... I certainly don't want that to happen, and the plan is to do everything I can to be ready for the start of the season.''
As far as what today holds for Peavy, well, he's basically just a highly-paid cheerleader now. He's on the current road trip with the Sox, getting the beginning stages of his rehab in, but also sitting back and wondering what if.
Former slugger Frank Thomas had to deal with something very similar back in 2005, as foot problems forced him to the sideline after a solid first half showing, leaving him to watch the team go on to winning a World Series.
It was Peavy who said way back in January that he wanted "what the boys did in 2005. I want that dog pile, that memory, that ring. If you're not dreaming of that same thing, I question where you are as an athlete.''
That hasn't changed.
"I still want that more than anything, and I want this group of guys, my buddies that I have shared some playing time with, to do that - albeit I don't know if I need to be in that dog pile but I'll certainly be on the outskirts of it and so happy for my teammates,'' Peavy said. "I mean you want to be a contributing factor for a team that gets to the World Series and to play in that is anyone's dream. That's the tough part about this, but I pushed as hard as I can, we pushed through some injuries to try and be out there for the boys, and if anything I did end on a good note.''
BOSTON - There is one head of hair that Ozzie Guillen has taken notice of the last week.
It isn't Manny Ramirez's.
"I look at Ibis' hair, my wife,'' the White Sox manager said on Saturday. "Not someone else's.''
Asked how his wife's hair is working out for him lately?
"Pretty good,'' Guillen replied. "Right now it's starting to bother me because I see that hair every day now. She knows. Her hair don't look as good as it did two weeks ago.''
So "Hair-gate'' continues, especially with the report that Ramirez had his long dreadlocks trimmed by his personal barber, Angel Pena, who was flown into Boston. Supposedly Pena took about four inches off, but it was hardly noticeable, with the dreads still covering up a good part of the name on the back of Ramirez's No. 99 jersey.
Sox board chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has maintained a strict appearance policy from his players, and one that was challenged in the past when both Joe Crede and A.J. Pierzynski came into spring camp 2006 looking like Nirvana band members. They were "asked'' to clean it up by the start of the regular season and did.
Guillen did admit to talking to Ramirez about it in Cleveland and passing the message on, but as far as if the latest trim to Ramirez's hair was Chairman approved, Guillen didn't want to get involved.
"I just worry about him performing,'' Guillen said. "But I try to stay away the most I can. I talked to Manny about help us doing that. But the last thing I worry about right now is Manny's hair. I don't. I can't. I said a long time ago it's not my department. We talked to him and gave him the message.
"I don't want to get involved with something, I don't want to say I can't control. I'm not afraid of Manny to tell him what to do. I'm not afraid of any of my players. I don't say afraid. It's being worried about what his reaction will be.''
Guillen already had to tell Ramirez that his cutoff shirt he was wearing for batting practice was too short.
"Well, that's my job,'' he continued. "He went and changed it. I don't think Manny has any problems. I don't know why people create them. I don't let the cat run away because when you put him back in the cage, it's going to be hard.''
Asked if he thought Reinsdorf would fine Ramirez since the locks obviously aren't going anywhere, Guillen replied, "I don't know. I stay away from that. That's Jerry's problem.''
Guillen's problem - as well as the problem for his coaches - is making sure Ramirez feels like he's in a place where he can succeed.
"You ask them, 'What your routine is, what do you want? Do you have a routine? Whatever you've done in the past, if we're capable of it, and we probably are, we'll do it for you.' '' hitting coach Greg Walker explained. "You ask them what they need on a daily basis. We ask them, 'What kind of information do you use? A lot, none, whatever you use.' We don't change nothing. We try and create the same atmosphere they've had success with in the past, and that's it. They may ask us what to watch for. You know the first day, [Manny] gave me a little something that he wanted me to watch for. Other than that, it's all about them. Especially the veteran players, we just are about, 'What does it take to get you ready to play the game?' ''
CLEVELAND - There was a certain calmness in the voice of Matt Thornton Wednesday morning, just minutes after he threw an all-out simulated game in the bullpen.
The left elbow felt strong. Strong enough for the White Sox reliever to declare himself ready to come off the 15-day disabled list and be ready for the start of the Boston series on Friday.
Thornton's hope was the calm he was feeling was just a prelude of a perfect storm that opposing teams were about to experience.
"That's what you try and do - peak as September is going along,'' Thornton said. "We have 30-some games, and you want to be peaking to make that push, win the division and take it from there. It's going to be a fun month.''
Made so only if the bullpen is in fact about to become fully operational.
With Thornton returning on Friday, a Thursday offday for the likes of Bobby Jenks, Chris Sale and Sergio Santos to rest up on and then J.J. Putz [right knee] on schedule to come off the DL in Detroit, all under the shadow of the offense adding slugger Manny Ramirez, the misery the Sox were suffering through the past few weeks - especially with the bullpen in shambles - was dispersing.
"Any time you have two of your main bullpen pieces go down this time of year, it's tough for those other guys to eat those innings,'' Thornton said. "I get back this weekend and J.J. is right behind me, we'll get back to full strength and back to what we're doing before.
"Having all your pieces is really good for any team. The way we're playing right now ... with the addition of Manny Ramirez, we're on track to make a nice little run here.''
What will also be key for the Sox bullpen is the emergence of rookie Chris Sale, who has been forced to grow up with Thornton on the shelf.
"The funny thing about it is that now I know we can use Sale in any situation,'' manager Ozzie Guillen said of the lefty. "Before I was kind of worried about using him in the eighth or the ninth. It was always Thornton. Now, if Thornton needs a day off I will be more secure and have more flexibility with Sale because I know he can get people out too.''
The rest of the league is learning that, too.
"I know [Cleveland's Shin-Soo] Choo from the Mariner days and I told him, 'Yeah, I'm not going to be able to face you this series,' '' Thornton explained. "We were joking back and forth, but I told him, 'Don't worry, there's someone a lot better than me out there right now.' He was like, 'What are you talking about? Oh yeah, that kid that throws 100.' I told him, 'He throws a hundred and then has a nasty slider.' Sale really does have electric stuff and I think when we get everyone back we'll be ready for this September run, which is really important.''