Guillen's stand-up welcomes Sox
Manager gives fiery, comical speech to new team
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Forget about the reports of Jose Canseco's pay-per-view lie detector test as a major sort of upcoming sports-related event.To make some real money with a former baseball player involved, simply put a few cameras in the White Sox's clubhouse at Tucson Electric Park when manager Ozzie Guillen gives his state-of-the-team address with the full crew in attendance. From all reports, Guillen was just as forceful and comical as he was during last year's inaugural delivery -- in addition making it too racy for television. The main difference between the two Spring Trainings is that the energetic Guillen now has the sort of team in place he believes will lead the White Sox to success. "I think I made my point," Guillen said of the 45-minute discussion before Tuesday's first full-team workout. "I let them know pretty clearly what we want and what we expect. I'm pretty sure they got the message. "If there was anything to say, there was time to say it. There were players that were here last year and they know where I'm coming from and why I said it. It was a little different." It was a little different for players who have never witnessed Guillen's routine up-close and personal. It might have been downright scary for Tadahito Iguchi and his Japanese translator, who Guillen feared that he scared off with some of his jokes and fiery points before Iguchi even had the chance to get on the field. The two met individually after the talk, with Guillen clearing up any ideas that were lost in translation.
"You couldn't translate that stuff, I don't think," said White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko of Guillen's commentary in Japanese. "I couldn't understand sometimes what he was saying. But it's comical and it's funny. Ozzie definitely keeps everybody loose."Jermaine Dye, the team's free agent right fielder, came up to Guillen after the meeting and told him that he was crazy. In a good way, of course. "I said that he hasn't heard anything yet," Guillen said with a smile. "I told them feelings about the organization, how we feel about them and the reason they are here. I made it clear how we're going to work." "Don't wait for the beginning of the season to start playing the game the right way," Konerko added, reinforcing one of Guillen's many points. "Play the game the right way and that way you won't have to flip a switch on once the season starts." Both Dye and Konerko figure to play important roles on the field with their offensive contributions from the middle of the White Sox order. They also fit perfectly into Guillen's plans for a clubhouse full of leaders. Guillen told general manager Ken Williams not to get him one or two players to take charge, but instead, get him good players. That line of reasoning comes from Guillen considering himself the team leader, and rightfully so. In the past, Guillen has also stated that he didn't want great players but players who could perform as part of the team. Simply put, he wants to manage a hard-working group more than a system of stars. With that new look in place, the White Sox clubhouse atmosphere could improve from 2004. It wasn't a bad situation, by all accounts, but there was nobody who stepped up and addressed problems among the team before they got out of control. And the players who didn't fit into Guillen's system are no longer with the organization. That personnel change also might signal the departure of those minor clubhouse trouble spots. "He has the team that he wants here," said White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle of Guillen. "Guys he didn't get along with last year or didn't play the way he played are out of here. He said that if you don't want to play my way and view this as a team thing, you might be out of here." "We have been lacking in (player) leadership the last few years," added White Sox outfielder Aaron Rowand of the clubhouse atmosphere. "I think we have to have guys step up and take charge and kind of be the official unofficial captain. But I don't think we will have a problem this year. We have a great bunch of guys who want to go out and play hard." Although Guillen told his players that they could talk about content from Tuesday's meeting with the media, they guarded any specifics. The players did confirm that Guillen expects 2005 to be a championship season. But that line of thinking is nothing the players wouldn't have come up with on their own. It's the added comedy that becomes one of many things which makes Guillen unique. "There were a lot of jokes in there, but we all know what he means," Dye said. "He may put it in a joking way, but he wants us to go out there and play hard." "I have a great bunch of kids around," Guillen said. "We built a great team on the field and off the field. I think it's important we stay close because we're going to spend more time together than we do with our own families."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.