07/27/2004 9:30 PM ET
White Sox offer views on collision
Players, coaches debate incident at home plate
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- The comments from Ozzie Guillen during Tuesday's pregame media session seemed so far removed from political correctness, even in the highly competitive and aggressive world of baseball, that the question had to be asked of the White Sox manager a second time.
Would he advocate tough play from his team in the field, in the case of breaking up a double play at second, for instance, to the point that it could cause injury to an opposing player?
"As long as they go in clean, yes," Guillen responded.
Guillen fielded questions about everything from his team's physical and mental toughness to the aggressive style of play employed by the Twins, as Day 2 of "Huntergate" took shape.
|Torii Hunter leveled catcher Jamie Burke to score a run on Monday. (Brian Kersey/AP)
The controversy began late Monday night, when Torii Hunter plowed over Jamie Burke at the plate, despite looking as if he could have gone around the White Sox catcher, to score Minnesota's fifth run.
Guillen deemed Hunter's play as a "message" during Monday's postgame, as opposed to something unwarranted. Guillen hadn't changed his mind on Tuesday, just as he hadn't wavered on his team needing to play equally as hard-nosed.
Hence, Guillen's commentary on infield aggressiveness to the point of pain was produced.
"On the first ground ball to shortstop or second base, I expect that we go after someone and hopefully we hurt someone," said Guillen early in his pregame talk, once again referring to a double play situation. "That's the way to go.
"Last night, we had two opportunities to do it and we didn't do it. After that play (with Hunter) happened, there were two ground balls, double-play balls, and I thought we were going to get someone at second base when we had the opportunity.
"Obviously, we aren't going to get Hunter because he plays outfield," Guillen added. "But we can get his teammates. Are we going to do it? I hope we get the chance. But besides that, I want to make it clear that we should turn the page and move on. We aren't going to hit anyone because I don't like to play that game."
Hunter's first two at-bats proved Guillen a man of his word. The Twins' center fielder grounded out to second in the second inning against White Sox starter Freddy Garcia and drew a two-out, four-pitch walk in the fourth. Only one pitch came anywhere close to inside.
Guillen is not against hitting someone if the situation calls for it. He mentioned that one of the current pitchers on his staff made the team out of Spring Training because he hit someone at the proper time during Cactus League play.
The White Sox players didn't believe retaliation would be coming. That group included Burke, who suffered a mild concussion as a result of the collision.
"I think it's over with. We're not expecting to do anything," Burke said. "That's part of the game. You go out there and play hard, and things like that happen. Obviously, you're in the heat of the moment right there. You have that in mind when you're on third base trying to score a run. You're going to do whatever you can to get home."
"Every time I saw it on television last night, I got madder and madder," added White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle, Monday's starting and losing pitcher. "It's one of our guys. Like Ozzie said, it's part of the game and he expects our guys to play the same way. And I know Torii, and he's a good guy. But the angle he went at it and the ball wasn't there yet... It's kind of frustrating when you look at it."
What truly seemed to frustrate Guillen was that neither Aaron Rowand nor Carlos Lee went hard enough to make a point with a chance to break up double plays in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, on Monday. Guillen pointed to a hard slide Lee took into Detroit's Omar Infante this past weekend as the way the game should be played on a daily basis.
The slide could have seriously injured smaller Infante, but it was done cleanly, by Guillen's estimation. The same thought process follows Hunter's actions.
It's not so much that the White Sox manager wants blood or broken bones. He's simply trying to foster a more intense attitude on the South Side that carries them to the postseason.
"I want to see baseball in general play like that," Guillen said. "Four or five years ago, we criticized Albert Belle for doing his job (forearm to Fernando Vina's head to break up a double play). 'Ah, he's a dirty player.' Why? The guy is in the middle, he's supposed to do that, and he did it. That's the way baseball used to be played.
"When I see something wrong, I will take care of it. If I see something right, I will take care of it too, because I'm the one that takes care of stuff around here.
"They grow up different ways and their father teaches them in different ways," Guillen added. "But they better start learning how to play the game with me."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.