No controversy for Williams with roster
White Sox GM has full respect for Guillen, coaches' wishes
CHICAGO -- There is no denying Ken Williams believes Dayan Viciedo, the White Sox top prospect currently demolishing International League pitching with Triple-A Charlotte, is ready for the Major Leagues.
Williams also believes Viciedo can make a difference for this current White Sox squad, fighting to get back to .500 and pushing toward the top of the American League Central. Of course, Viciedo's addition would come at the subtraction of another valuable player on the 25-man roster -- and likely an everyday player.
But in a conversation with MLB.com prior to Saturday's game at Wrigley Field, the general manager stated once again how a potential Viciedo move will be a group call -- not just him flexing his general manager muscles.
He also expressed displeasure with what he thought was an expression of faith in manager Ozzie Guillen and his staff -- leaving any roster changes in their capable hands -- now being turned into another Williams vs. Guillen sort of controversy. That perception seems fairly clear-cut: Williams wants Viciedo, with Juan Pierre potentially being the odd man out, while Guillen is the one fighting for his hard-working leadoff hitter.
"I respect my coaches and my manager too much to make a roster decision that they are not in favor of," said Williams, speaking in the visitors' dugout Saturday. "That's the way we've worked. That's the way I've worked for 11 years, and with this particular group, for the last seven.
"We routinely make decisions in this fashion. This isn't anything new. This isn't any sort of trying to exercise or shift power, or shift blame or shift anything. I don't do that. I haven't done that in the entire time I've done this job.
"If anything, I will take that blame or any blame that people want to cast on us on my own shoulders. So, I take great offense to that."
Part of the confusion or controversy surrounding this on-going Viciedo/Pierre issue could stem from how the issue was presented to Guillen during a recent media scrum. Guillen was told directly that Williams basically said it was up to him whether Viciedo was in the Majors, and that question came during a period when Pierre was struggling.
Back in early June, Williams talked to MLB.com about Viciedo's development. While Williams admitted it would be "awfully interesting" to have Viciedo in the lineup, he added that Guillen was not ready to change the team's mix "and that has to be respected."
That opinion was reiterated Saturday, along with a vote of confidence for Pierre.
"Listen, I'm the one who acquired Juan to be at the top of the order and as the catalyst," Williams said. "I would like to see him succeed, and as a result, see the team succeed. When I'm asked the question is Viciedo ready, well, the answer is yes. But he can still stay and work on some things.
"Taking it to the next set of conversations with my coaches and manager, it's about what do you guys need at this point. At any point in time, with any player that is struggling, part of my job is to give them options. It's a very quick conversation, with no power struggle or need to flex any sort of power.
"It's part of my job. But I've been in this dugout, and there are certain things in this dugout -- the pulse of the dugout -- that only they know. It can be interpreted to me, but they are feeling it every day. That has to be respected."
This issue was discussed Saturday by Guillen and Williams, although it was not on the agenda when Williams rode his bike to Wrigley Field to speak with his manager and pitching coach Don Cooper about a few other issues. Guillen joked there couldn't really be much talk about Pierre or Viciedo with the way Pierre has been playing.
Guillen added that bench coach Joey Cora talked to Viciedo on Friday, and Guillen told Cora to make sure Viciedo knew, "I don't hate him."
"Right now I don't think is the time," Guillen said. "I don't have space for [Viciedo] here, and I think we're fine with what we have. Hopefully, we get [John] Danks back quickly, then we can make our pitching staff much stronger.
"Kenny asked me who's available, what I have, what I need. What I need, we don't have it. I wish I had another [Sergio] Santos, but I don't have it."
A chance exists Viciedo could remain in the Minors until September callups. But Williams said discussions will continue on an almost daily basis as to what best serves the White Sox playoff push. Those conversations will include at the very least Williams, Guillen and his coaches.
"I don't believe we need to make a change," Williams said. "Even if I did, I'm not pushing it on them, because they know better what's going on in this dugout and who's fighting and who isn't and how the chemistry is.
"All of us are in continuous discussions about how to make the team better, the best mix. What is good for today, they may have a different opinion on down the line.
"Now that I know how the original question was presented to him, which was not how I said it, I can understand his reaction to it in a little better way. I can understand a little bit of defensiveness, because he's not used to hearing that from me."