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Ozzie Guillen on White Sox departure: ‘Loyalty wasn’t there’

Ozzie Guillen reacts during news conference where he was introduced as new manager FloridMarlins baseball team Miami Wednesday Sept. 28

Ozzie Guillen reacts during a news conference where he was introduced as the new manager of the Florida Marlins baseball team, in Miami, Wednesday, Sept., 28, 2011. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

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Updated: November 11, 2011 5:16PM



MIAMI — Cameramen lined up like a firing squad. Miami’s finest media members crammed into a space that felt more shed than interview room.

All anxiously awaiting the introduction of the new face of the Miami Marlins organization.

The funny thing is, as prepared as they thought they were for Ozzie Guillen to be introduced as the team’s new manager, they still have no idea what’s coming. They were prepared for a tropical storm, not knowing that it’s a hurricane bearing down on South Beach.

Sure, they got little doses from Guillen on Wednesday, but it was more tease than a full taste.

Meanwhile, about 1,300 miles away, the South Side still doesn’t realize what it lost.

Give it time. That will come.

Guillen was doing his best to look forward in his new home, but he admittedly was still hurt by what he left behind.

What bothered Guillen the most since he departed after Monday’s game was the perception that money was what drove him out.

Did he beat the “pay me’’ drum? Yes, and hard. Maybe too hard. But he was trying to let everyone know what was going on, the real reason he left, without crossing the line with a father-like figure to him in chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. Spending the last two years on the job not knowing who to trust or who wanted him around wore him down. Demanding an extension was how he lashed out, right or wrong.

“Listen, they can say and think anything they want to think,’’ Guillen told the Sun-Times. “I wanted an extension, and an extension comes with money. I felt like I deserved that. Fans, media, they think it’s about money. Well, this is the way I make my living, but loyalty wasn’t there.

“My contract here, it’s nothing. People will laugh when they see it. Behind the scenes, it was more things. They took care of that here.’’

The Marlins will pay him $500,000 more per year than the Sox did. That’s all. Negotiated and agreed on by Guillen himself. But it gives him four years of security and not feeling as though members of his organization are sneaking behind him, knife in hand.

“This place wants me for a long time,’’ Guillen said. “No one here is making me doubt that. I wanted to be wanted, that’s it.

“The decision [the Sox] made, wrong or right, people will forget about me in a couple months. They will forget who Ozzie Guillen is. I can see people here [in Miami], how excited they are. I’m going to miss people there, of course. But it’s over with. It’s too bad it ended that way.’’

Guillen compared his final two years with the Sox to an unhappy marriage, one that sucked the passion out of his life off the field. He was adamant in saying that once the game started, the passion was there. But when there were no more pitches being made, bats being swung, it was gone.

“Why are we going to have a marriage if all we have is sex?’’ Guillen said. “We were married to keep the kids happy, and it wasn’t healthy for anyone.

“I’m smiling, and people haven’t seen me smile like this for a long time.’’

As far as his feelings about Sox general manager Ken Williams, Guillen admitted for the first time on the record that while the relationship was held together for on-the-field business, it was broken beyond repair off the field.

“Off-the-field things, things with my family, yes, I wanted to leave because of him,’’ Guillen said of Williams. “On-the-field stuff, no, not really.

“Kenny and myself went through some tough times, but I thought we handled it pretty good. I don’t think it was fun for Kenny, either. Me leaving the White Sox was a big relief for everyone. Moving me was easier than moving anyone else. I told Jerry, ‘Listen, if I’m the problem . . .’ Jerry didn’t want me to leave. But it was time for me to go.’’

The timing couldn’t have been any more perfect for the Marlins.

Team owner Jeffrey Loria has his new palace opening up for the 2012 season, and he has his new general to run it. There are strong indications that Loria is poised to spend this offseason, and players already could be lining up.

So Carlos Zambrano, Mark Buehrle, Aramis Ramirez, Jose Reyes, grab a ticket and line up single file.

“[The Marlins] have already asked me about a few, yes,’’ Guillen said when asked about adding some former players and friends to the mix. “But I’m going to let them ask me. I’m not going to say, ‘Hey, bring that guy.’ Only one guy they have to bring for me, [coach] Joey Cora.

“But it’s nice that when you see and hear from guys, that they want to play for you. People want to play for Miami. That’s a plus.’’

And that’s no fish tale.

The Guillen Era officially ended for the Sox on Wednesday, and it began for the newly named Miami Marlins.

“I’m starting a new book,’’ Guillen added. “The old book, wow, if I ever wrote that, it could be bad.’’

The Sox made sure it ended that way.



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