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Ken Williams eyes Ozzie Guillen’s replacements

Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is place White Sox dugout for last time as manager White Sox Monday September

Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is in place in the White Sox dugout for the last time as manager of the White Sox Monday September 26, 2011 at U. S. Cellular Field in Chicago. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 8, 2012 1:15AM

Ozzie Guillen knew weeks ago that his time with the White Sox was over. But the man who said managers always get fired didn’t let his eight-year tenure end that way.

Instead, Guillen met with Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf on Monday, knowing his 2012 contract wouldn’t be extended, and he asked to be released from it. Reinsdorf agreed, and the wheels were put in motion to allow Guillen to become the next manager of the Marlins.

That could happen Wednesday, sources said.

‘‘It’s good being wanted, and more importantly it’s good knowing where you stand,’’ Guillen wrote in a post on his website. ‘‘Although it’s sad my time with the White Sox has ended, I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be a part of the Marlins organization. I have an unbelievable amount of respect for the Marlins, owner Jeffrey Loria, president Larry Beinfest and general manager Michael Hill. I can’t thank them enough for this opportunity and look forward to the future. I can’t wait to get started!’’

The Sox will get ‘‘compensation’’ when it happens, perhaps a top player — something that happened in 2002, when Seattle received outfielder Randy Winn from Tampa Bay when Lou Piniella left to become the Rays’ manager.

‘‘I think Jerry did me a favor,’’ Guillen said after his team held on to defeat the Blue Jays 4-3 in his final game. ‘‘It was my call, and I appreciate the Chicago White Sox for letting me do what I want. Maybe it’s not for the best. Maybe I won’t appreciate what I’ve got here.

‘‘But sometimes you have to turn the page. Hopefully, the next book will be as good as this one.’’

Bench coach Joey Cora will manage the team in the last two days. But general manager Ken Williams said he already has replacement candidates in mind.

‘‘I have definite answers on that,’’ Williams said. ‘‘Because of the warnings, we’ve had ample time to dwindle a list down to a few select candidates, and we think we can act swiftly. That accompanies a plan of attack to the 2012, ’13, ’14 seasons, but I don’t want to get too far into that because I think it takes away from Ozzie on this day and what he means to White Sox fans and baseball fans. I need to respect that.’’

No one will ‘‘replace’’ the colorful Guillen, who grew up in the organization as a player and won a World Series in his second season as manager.

‘‘I personally appreciate everything he has done for this organization, our fans and the city of Chicago,’’ Reinsdorf said in a statement. ‘‘We shared the greatest moments together and wish him nothing but future success in baseball and in life.’’

Monday’s events concluded a strange final week for Guillen and the team. Guillen and Reinsdorf met briefly Saturday before Monday’s half-hour discussion at Reinsdorf’s United Center offices. Guillen met with the media as usual before the game, acknowledging the meeting with his boss and the general topic of his desire for a contract extension.

But before game time, he told his players the real outcome.

‘‘I already did the toughest thing — talking to the players,’’ he said.

‘‘We had heard rumors, but to hear him talk, it was sad,’’ catcher A.J. Pierzynski said.

The seeds of Guillen’s departure were planted last year, when the Sox failed to win the American League Central and the relationship between Guillen and Williams began to deteriorate. Reinsdorf interceded, insisting they mend fences. But this season began crumbling on the field early despite a $127 million payroll.

‘‘Anyone who blames Kenny or Jerry or the front office, they’re wrong,’’ Guillen said. ‘‘Jerry gave me the opportunity to play and manage in the big leagues. What more can I ask? No regrets. I’ll be Jerry’s friend forever. This business move won’t change our relationship.’’

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