05/28/08 1:35 PM ET
Guillen looking at Cabrera's play first
For skipper, shortstop's bat outweighs defensive 'selfishness'
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
"I'm not going to go back and forth with my players," said Guillen, during his chat with the media prior to Wednesday afternoon's series finale in Cleveland. "I'm not going to say it's an issue. Everyone has the right to say what he wants."
Guillen had his say two days ago, when he sounded a warning for his veteran shortstop in regard to reports of Cabrera making calls in two separate games to the respective official scorers in order to get errors changed. Guillen pointed out how that sort of action could look bad for Cabrera among his teammates and in the media.
In Wednesday's edition of the Chicago Tribune, Cabrera sent out his response through the only interview he chose to do on Tuesday. Basically, Cabrera said he would call again if it happened again, taking care of his own business, because the White Sox didn't have his back.
That comment was met by a hope from Guillen to protect Cabrera better.
"I hope I can, but I don't know how," said Guillen of Cabrera. "Like I say, my door is open. If something bothers you, feel free to talk to me about it. I'm not going to make a big issue about it. As long as he's here, he's going to play.
"It's like I say, it's not about feelings. It's about winning. The only thing I care about him is make sure he plays the game and respects his teammates. That's all you can ask. Respect your teammates and play the game you should be playing.
"Everything else will take care of itself," Guillen added, with a comical addition. "If he wants to call back, I'll give him my cellular phone to call back. But it's something I feel uncomfortable with. We solve all the problems down here."
Cabrera went on to point out how any Major Leaguer who says he's not selfish is lying. He added that "everyone is selfish about numbers, because that's the only thing people cannot lie about."
That sort of perceived "me-first" response goes against the "pulling from the same end of the rope" attitude the White Sox have been preaching since the start of Spring Training. But Guillen felt as if Cabrera made a wrong choice of words in his commentary.
"Everyone has to take care of themselves before they take care of the team," Guillen said. "That's the way he should have put it. I played the game. I played longer than he did, and I played with more different teammates than he did. I think selfish sounds like he isn't a team player. But in baseball, I say we win as a team and lose as a team.
"But when you're there, you're by yourself. It's not basketball, where you got to cover me and I'm going to shoot. This is about you. You hit a ground ball, that's about yourself. When you're going to hit, it's you. Everyone has goals, and his goal is to make as few errors as he can, like I did it. But I keep repeating that. It's not about me or him. It's about the club."
Above all else, Guillen's previously mentioned comment sits at the crux of this situation. Cabrera can disagree with the man in charge, but as long as he continues to perform, having knocked 10 hits in his past 18 at-bats entering Wednesday's contest, the disagreement gets pushed to the background.
"The only thing I care, believe me, is how he's going to be on the field," Guillen said. "I don't think I'm his favorite manager. But you know what? He's my favorite shortstop right now. He's my favorite shortstop, and I know Cabby since years ago, and I don't think our relationship should be missing about this.
"If he's not happy or something here, we have stuff and we play our way. Maybe it's the wrong or the right one. My way is to protect the players the best I can. If he don't feel that way, there's nothing I can do about it. I have 24 guys that I have to be behind him.
"It's about playing well," Guillen added. "He's doing it right now. I don't have an issue. Maybe one of his teammates has an issue. Hopefully not, but to me, I don't lose my positive energy to stuff like that. We have more problems."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.