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04/23/08 9:40 PM ET

Visit from Galarraga thrills Guillen

White Sox manager treasures friendship with cancer survivor

CHICAGO -- Andres Galarraga came to Chicago this week for a checkup in relation to the cancer battle he waged and won on a couple of occasions, beginning back in 1999, when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

This particular trip also allowed him the chance to pay a visit to U.S. Cellular Field for the first two games of the White Sox series with the Yankees and catch up with his old friend Ozzie Guillen.

"He's the type of guy who, when you see him at the ballpark, you get excited," the White Sox manager said with a smile about the visit from Galarraga, who batted .288 during his Major League career and hit 399 home runs. "It's awesome."

Galarraga's presence drew handshakes and conversations from pretty much everyone involved with the White Sox. But it was Guillen who was moved the most, as by Galarraga's estimation, the two have been friends for close to 25 years.

The only time they actually played together was during the 1998 season in Atlanta, with Guillen standing by Galarraga as he went through cancer treatment and missed the entire '99 season. Guillen referred to Galarraga as the "best first baseman I've ever seen."

Guillen's prowess as a manager doesn't surprise Galarraga, nor does the fact that Guillen's outspoken, outgoing style hasn't changed since his playing days. They are two accomplished veterans in the game who have made their home country of Venezuela proud.

"That's true, no doubt," said Galarraga, who reported that all of his medical tests in Chicago turned out good. "I was surprised Ozzie won [a World Series] right away because some managers go a long time without winning, but he loves what he's doing and knows what he's doing.

"He always did a lot of talking, but that's why the players feel comfortable with him. Whatever he says, he says. The players know what he's thinking, whether they like it or not. He also has that fun attitude, and that friendship with the players is special for both sides. That's why he's a successful manager."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.