Ozzie Guillen would like to be back in White Sox family
BY JOE COWLEY Staff Reporter July 15, 2014 5:22PM
White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf says he loves manager Ozzie Guillen and is in his corner. | Al Podgorski~Sun-Times
Updated: July 15, 2014 8:32PM
MINNEAPOLIS — It’s easy to rewrite Ozzie Guillen’s history since he left the White Sox after the 2011 season. Guillen, who now works for ESPN and ESPN Deportes as a baseball analyst, is fine with it. He’s done fighting that fight. If the lasting memory of him on the South Side is that of a ‘‘loud-mouthed Venezuelan,’’ so be it.
He’ll sleep well knowing the numbers he left behind: from 2004 to 2011, a 678-617 (.524) record — the third-most wins by a manager in Sox history — two playoff appearances and the Sox’ first World Series title in 88 years in 2005.
But three years away from the Sox and two seasons out of baseball have changed the man. The days of insisting he wouldn’t attend SoxFest for the 10th anniversary of the championship team are over.
For Guillen, a lot is over.
‘‘I changed my mind — I’ve talked to [the Sox], and if I’m in town, of course I’ll go,’’ Guillen said before Tuesday’s All-Star Game. ‘‘I don’t know where I’ll be at that time. Last two years during SoxFest, I was in Colombia watching bullfights.
‘‘I don’t have any problems with the Sox. During the summer, I will be a part of any activity they need. What’s the big deal? I love Sox fans. I respect the Sox front-office people. If I don’t show up, it’s too easy for people to say, ‘You see, it’s not us, it’s him.’ I don’t want that. The 10-year anniversary is for the fans.’’
That’s a much different attitude than in previous years, when Guillen said he would never attend if former general manager Ken Williams was there or unless the Sox paid him.
The change of heart by Guillen, who is still collecting a salary from the Miami Marlins and the Sox, didn’t stop with SoxFest. Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is a New York guy and well-versed in the Billy Martin-George Steinbrenner on-again, off-again owner-manager relationship. Could Guillen as manager be the future of the Sox?
‘‘I wish,’’ Guillen said. ‘‘But if I say yes, then I don’t respect [current manager] Robin Ventura. But that’s not where I’m coming from. When Robin gets tired of managing or he’s had enough, I would like to be back. But it’s up to them. If I wear a uniform and it’s the White Sox, that will be special.’’
Reinsdorf and the Guillen family already have moved toward getting ‘‘back to the way we were,’’ Guillen said. Reinsdorf attended the wedding of Guillen’s oldest son, Ozzie Jr., last weekend.
‘‘It was important for me, important for him, too,’’ Guillen said. ‘‘All of my family. We are where we are as a family because of Jerry. Jerry gave me the opportunity to play for his team, opportunity to manage his team, opportunity to be a success as a manager and a player. That was a special moment as a family, and it was great he was there.
‘‘We had a chance to talk about a lot of things — baseball, life. For both, it was very important — I’m not going to say ‘break the ice,’ but to go back to the way we were.’’
For now, maybe that’s good enough for both sides.