Winning, not friendship, Ozzie's top priority
Guillen says relationship with Williams not like most
CHICAGO -- Ken Williams and Ozzie Guillen have had an interesting working dynamic since the White Sox general manager hired the outspoken manager to run the South Siders in November 2003. Actually, that bond dates back well before their time in management.
"You know what the thing is in the situation between Kenny and myself?" Guillen said. "I think we are the only guys who played together, friends for a long time, and then he became my boss. You look at other teams, no general manager played together with the manager. They're not friends, they're just employees."
The two men running the show for the White Sox might not be as close as they once were, a relationship considered more like brothers than employer-employee. There have been strains placed on the relationship over the past year, including Spring Training controversies involving the stoppage of a proposed website for the White Sox manager and Oney Guillen, Ozzie's middle son, resigning from his post within the organization after an issue arose over his pointed comments made on Twitter.
But Guillen didn't want to harp on past history when asked about his dealings with Williams during a 15-minute pregame interview session Friday at U.S. Cellular Field. Instead, Guillen basically echoed a sentiment put forth by Williams on Wednesday, in that the two certainly don't have to be best friends in order to achieve ultimate success with the White Sox.
"I don't know why people in Chicago think that I have to be friends with Kenny, or Kenny has to be friends with me to make this thing work," Guillen said. "The only difference between another general manager and with Kenny, we were friends before I got into this job. We grew up together, and we played together.
"That's the only difference. As an example, Joe Torre and [Yankees general manager Brian] Cashman were not best buddies, and they won a lot of titles.
"It's one thing I wish," said Guillen, pausing before flashing a broad smile. "I wish Kenny would never talk to me again, I'll never talk to Kenny, as long as I have another ring."
In regard to Guillen's true friends, the White Sox manager said he has three and they have no choice in the matter. That trio would be his sons Ozzie, Jr., Oney and Ozney, who will graduate high school in the next week and could soon embark on a professional baseball career.
"One thing I want to make clear about friendship," Guillen said. "I don't know the difference between hugging and kissing each other or getting along and making this thing work.
"We talk about it, we talk about the ballclub," said Guillen of his working relationship with Williams. "Whatever he needs from us, he's got it. Anything we need from him, we've got it. I don't know about friendship. Everything, when you put a family between, it don't matter, your boss, anybody, there's going to be feelings out there. Besides that, I'm fine. Kenny should be fine, I guess."
Two days ago, Williams said there was no problem with his manager. Williams did throw out a sarcastic quip about Guillen no longer being welcome in Market, a Chicago restaurant in which Williams has an ownership stake, after Guillen knocked the food during the Spring Training controversy involving his son.
Although Guillen is a fiercely loyal father and puts family above all else, including the White Sox, he mentioned Friday how those March issues have not lingered as lasting bad feelings. Actually, Guillen believes a few wins from the White Sox will make the relationship issue with Williams a moot point.
"Remember, I said this in Spring Training, if we're winning, and we're in July and we're winning games and we're in first place, we all love each other," Guillen said. "I bet you the players hate me, I don't hate my players yet. I will. The only thing we've got left, I'm still kissing the [players'] kids [in the tunnel outside the clubhouse].
"Do we like each other right now? No, but I don't expect that. I expect the fans to be upset. I think the media should be upset. I'm upset. I'm not happy. I'm not satisfied, but hey, this is the way it is. We can control this. The fans and the media can't control this. My job is to try to turn this team around, and hopefully I'll start doing my job.
"To make it clear, I don't have a problem with Kenny about what happened with my kid," Guillen said. "I might have a problem with him in a different way. But I don't have a problem at all. That's a family matter. I made that decision. I think my kid did what he can do."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.