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Ozzie Guillen firmly behind Ken Williams’ return to White Sox


Mark Buehrle leaves game against Kansas City Royals seventh inning Thursday. | Ed Zurga~Getty Images

Mark Buehrle leaves a game against the Kansas City Royals in the seventh inning Thursday. | Ed Zurga~Getty Images

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Updated: November 30, 2011 12:16AM



KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Personal issues and past skirmishes aside, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen continues to voice his full support for general manager Ken Williams.

Asked about chairman Jerry Reinsdorf’s recent assurance to Williams — as reported Tuesday by Joe Cowley in the Sun-Times — that Williams will return next year, Guillen took the opportunity to cast a strong vote of support for the GM.

“I don’t see why not,’’ Guillen said before watching Mark Buehrle give up seven runs and a career-high 15 hits in the Sox’ 7-2 loss Thursday against the Royals. “He did a good job.’’

The loss officially eliminated the Sox from catching Detroit in the American League Central “race.’’ Whether Williams, who is believed to have two years left on his contract, and Guillen, who has one, will be given the opportunity to coexist and attempt to enter the next one is the burning question surrounding the Sox as Reinsdorf plans for next season. Guillen has said all along they can coexist on a professional level.

And, at least publicly, he patted Williams on the back for his work, reminding Sox fans that few objected when he signed Adam Dunn, acquired Alex Rios on waivers and traded for Jake Peavy, all of whom have big-money contracts that look like bad investments after the fact.

“One thing about it — all the people in Chicago, they’re going to blame Kenny,’’ Guillen said. “I remember when we made this club, everybody was excited. Don’t turn your back on the man. Don’t do that.’’

Williams and Guillen have each accepted the blame for the team’s performance.

“They gave me a good club to manage,’’ Guillen said. “We don’t play well? Yes, and we have to blame who? Pitchers, catchers, hitters. No, no. Blame the team, but I’m the one running this club. But don’t turn on Kenny. People in Chicago, don’t do that.

“Why are we going to turn on a guy now when he’s supposed to do what we’re supposed to do? Don’t turn on Kenny and Jerry. People should at least say thank you to Kenny and Jerry. They put the money out there and bring the players.’’

A day after saying his team lost its fight while getting swept out of U.S. Cellular Field by the red-hot Tigers, Guillen was asked to clarify. His issue was not sensing the same anger in his clubhouse.

“I don’t like that,’’ Guillen said. “Maybe I was wrong, but it was like, ‘Let’s win today and get dressed and go to Kansas City, and hopefully we win there.’ That’s the kind of thing that I saw.’’

Guillen, who does most of his communicating through the media, has held one clubhouse meeting. The subject was running out ground balls, and it came about the time Rios was benched for not hustling.

“We know we played very badly,’’ he said of this season. “We have a veteran team. What am I going to tell them, how bad we are? They should know. That’s why I try to stay away from meetings.’’

On the subject of bad, Buehrle gave up an assortment of bloop hits, dangerous line shots and home runs (Melky Cabrera, Billy Butler) to give up the most hits by a Sox pitcher since Kevin Tapani gave up 15 to the Mariners in 1996. In Buehrle’s last three starts, he has allowed 33 hits over 151/3 innings. In that span, his ERA climbed from 3.05 to 3.74.

The hit that knocked out Buehrle was a line shot by Alcides Escobar off his left biceps.

“I could’ve stayed in if it had happened earlier, but [Guillen] came out and said there’s no reason,’’ Buehrle said. “You’re getting your a-- handed to you; let’s get you out of there.’’

Buehrle wasn’t alone in having a rough night. The Sox settled for one run after loading the bases with no outs in the sixth against Jeff Francis. Brent Morel made two errors.

The loss was the Sox’ fifth in a row, not the type of finish Buehrle and Guillen were hoping for in what could be their last seasons on the South Side.



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