Well … what can you say? We are playing good baseball so far, but it can definitely get better. Unfortunately, we had a couple of rough games here on the homestand that we were unable to close out. I know we are capable and have the guys who can get the job done; now we just need to do it. Meanwhile, with that being said, I still have the confidence in our guys down in the bullpen to finish the games off. They have done it before, and for whatever reason, have just had some difficulties the past two weeks. So we will see what happens from now on …
But lets not forget we are 7-5, and a lot of good things came out of this last series and the homestand so far. I told you Oakland had a very good pitching staff and they showed us that. But our offense still got some runs and produced enough to win games and that’s very exciting. Our starting pitching has been good; we had a couple of guys (Mark Buehrle and John Danks) that gave us eight great innings a piece and did a great job. With that in mind, I also have to protect my guys; that’s my job. We are very early in the season and there is no reason to risk anyone this early. We are going to need everyone healthy to reach out potential.
After our off-day today, the Angels come to town. We always have to be on our toes because when Mike Scioscia brings his team in, they always like to put guys in motion and use a lot of hit-and-runs. I see that we get Jered Weaver on Friday and Dan Haren at the end, so we have our work cut out for us. But I will stick with my guys through thick and thin. We are a team. We win as a team and lose as a team.
I am going to enjoy my day off here in Miami. I’m down here visiting my son, Ozney, who I haven’t had a chance to see in forever because he is in the middle of his baseball season and I miss him. It gives me an opportunity to kind of take my mind off of things and tomorrow we will be ready to get after the Angels. I know my guys will be ready to play, and I hope you guys are ready to cheer!
MIAMI — What’s up, everyone? I’m coming to you from sunny South Florida. The great thing about being in Miami is that I can watch Venezuelan TV and Winter Ball games. It makes me feel like I am home. It has been a very good week for me. I had a great time at the Bears game last Thursday. Even though the game was kind of boring, it was great to tailgate with family and friends. It was good to see my youngest son, Ozney — who I don’t get to see a lot of — and one of his best friends and hopefully future MLB star Manny Machado. The Orioles are lucky to have him (watch out for this kid). That was the first time I had ever tailgated, and it’s easy to see that no one travels like Chicago fans. I want to say thanks to all the fans who saw me and came up to say hi. I was happy to take pics and sign autographs for everyone I could. It was so weird being in the stadium and not knowing where home plate was supposed to be! And contrary to some reports I heard, I was not wearing any football gear. I tried as best as I could to wear neutral colors. I will say that Florida fans can learn a lot from Chicago fans!
Here are some of the pics from the game:
A lot of people have been asking me to talk about the trade rumors that were out there involving me, so I thought I would address it once and for all. I want to first say I don’t know too much more about the rumors than anyone else. When I first heard of it, I felt very proud. It’s always good to feel wanted. When you’re a coach, you never think of your name being mentioned in a trade with some of the best future players in the game. At the same time, I felt very confused. Even though I’ve never considered myself untradeable like Michael Jordan, I never really thought the White Sox would consider trading me for anything. As far as I’m concerned, I am still proud to continue to work for the White Sox, and I will continue to do so with the same work ethic, attitude and passion I always have.
Make sure you keep asking me any questions you want. I will be answering more later this week. Don’t be scared!
‘Til next time …
This week, I had the great opportunity to go with Frank Thomas and Paul Molitor to Woodside Ranch, a new sports complex they’re building in Mauston, Wis. This place is gonna be mind-blowing and great for the kids up there. I only wish I had something like that when I was a kid!!! I want to give a special thanks to Damon Zuwalt and Orlando Cepeda Jr. I had a great time up there doing this, and it was good spending time with you guys. What can I really say about Frank Thomas and Paul Molitor, besides the fact they’re Hall of Famers and they played the game right. They were what I felt were two of the best right-handed hitters I ever saw.
This week, I’m going to Miami to see my son, Ozney, even though he clearly is doing fine without his parents. I hope to catch a couple of his games, but the game that is really going to be fun is the Bears-Dolphins game — and, yes, I will be tailgating. It will be fun to be in South Florida and around my old stadium (when I was there, they called it Pro Player; but who knows what they call it now). I will be sure to try and post some pictures.
OK, now on to the questions.
Q: Do you think Derek Jeter deserved a Gold Glove this year?
A: I’m not really in a position to judge whether or not he deserved it, but in my opinion, there were a few guys better than him defensively at shortstop. Some who come to mind are Alexei Ramirez, Elvis Andrus and Yuniesky Betancourt. And not because they are all Latinos, they were just better at playing shortstop this year.
Q: Does it bother you that sometimes your “crazy” antics get in the way of how people perceive you as a manager?
A: First of all, I’m not crazy, because crazy people, the way I see it, are in hospitals and mental facilities. I’m not going to any of those places any time soon, unless you ask my wife and she might agree with you guys. I am honest; there is a big difference. I say what I believe to be the truth. It doesn’t bother me that people see me that way because I know what I’m doing on and off the field, and especially with my relationship with my players. Don’t forget that I have been in this country since I was 16 and have learned many valuable lessons throughout that time.
Q: Do you get much of a chance to sign autographs for fans during Spring Training?
A: Yes, I get a chance to sign autographs before and after games. During practice a lot of times when fans are waiting around, I usually stop by and sign more than a couple at a time. I never say “no” to an autograph unless I’m busy, because if I have time I usually say “yes.”
Q: As a player, what were the best and worst playing surfaces you ever played on?
A: The best playing surface, by far — and this is no lie, you can ask anybody in the game, and they usually give the same answer: Comiskey Park (or U.S. Cellular Field), to me, is the best and always will be. Thank you to “The Sod Father,” Roger Bossard, and his grounds crew — those guys are amazing and make me a lot of money (hahaha). The worst had to be old Anaheim Stadium and Tropicana Field because it played so fast. But, remember, I haven’t played since 2000, so I’m sure they have changed.
OK, that’s all for now. Remember to keep the questions coming! Talk to you guys soon.
CHICAGO — What’s up, everyone?I finally made my way back to Chicago and
thought I’d share some things with you all. Man do I love this city,
even though I’m freezing my butt off!
Unfortunately, yesterday the baseball community lost a true legend. Sparky Anderson
was a great man and will truly be missed. I was lucky enough to watch
Sparky manage my favorite teams and player of all-time. Growing up in
Venezuela, the only games I was able to watch were those of the
Cincinnati Reds teams of the ’70s (especially the ’75 and ’76 teams) and
my favorite player, Dave Concepcion. I was also fortunate enough
to play against him when he was in Detroit and would be blessed one day
to have as many rings as he does. A lot of people have been asking me
if I have any Sparky stories, so here’s something I remember — even
though it might be hard for some of you to believe it. Sparky Anderson
intentionally walked me twice in my career to pitch to Sammy Sosa.
Yes, the same Sammy Sosa who hit over 600 home runs — although back
then he still had his Jheri curl and was a little darker (hahaha). Sparky was a great baseball man and will be missed.
I want to congratulate the San Francisco Giants, especially Aaron Rowand, Juan Uribe and Bruce Bochy.
My experience at FOX was awesome, and I can’t thank everyone enough.
But seeing those guys celebrate is what makes me excited to come to
work. I hope I can do it again some time soon. I love this game so much,
I want to be around it whenever I can. Both the front offices of the
Giants and Rangers need to be applauded. I got to the World Series in
’99 with the Braves and know what it feels like to lose. It takes a lot
to get there, and those guys should be proud. I watched a little of the
parade in San Francisco and it was great. those guys won because they’re
carefree spirits. They play the baseball I like to play.
Now that I’m back in Chicago, I plan on seeing a couple of Bulls games like I did last night. (Thanks to all the fans who came up and said hi.) I live close to the United Center and enjoy supporting the young kids they have, like Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose. Plus, I have always been a fan of basketball.
also want to go see a Bears game, but I’m not sure it will be here in
Chicago. Us Latinos will freeze out there in this weather. I am planning
on heading down to Miami to see them play the Dolphins. It will be a
lot warmer, but don’t worry, I will be rooting for the Bears. When I’m
in Miami, I enjoy golfing a lot and watching my youngest son, Ozney,
play at his Junior College. I think I’m going to crash at his place and
make him cook for me or something (hahaha). I have a lot of good friends who live in Miami in the offseason. I play golf with Joey Cora a lot and get to see Freddy Garcia
and his kids, who are a part of my family. Even though we try to relax,
we always end up talking about baseball. we Guillens live baseball
24/7, and I even named my dog “DH” after my good friend Harold Baines.
I hope you all got a chance to check out the Jimmy Kimmel
joke about me. If not, you can look at my previous post. It’s very funny
stuff. I read all your questions and comments, and I love it, so please
ask me anything. Don’t be scared (haha). Maybe you guys can
teach me something. It never hurts to listen to advice. Now it’s time to
go relax this offseason with a little music, the beach, and of course
baseball because the chaos never stops!
Talk to you guys soon, very soon.
Embarrassed. That is how we should all feel after these first games against the Red Sox and the Yankees in their home fields. We knew the 10-day road trip would be difficult, but not even in my worst nightmare did I imagine we would have a 1-5 record in the first six games. When we have won, we have won as a team. Now we must all face these defeats with the same embarrassment because every one of us shares in the responsibility. I am embarrassed and I question myself, thinking I am not doing the right things to earn the salary I am paid to make this team competitive and a fighter. I question myself and I am ashamed for not devising a lineup that produces runs to win, and for not putting the right pitcher on the mound to get outs. And if anyone on this team does not feel the same shame that I do, then I think he chose the wrong job.
As I write this column it is Saturday night in New York and a bitter taste lingers in my mouth from the loss to the Yankees by a score of 10-0. A game in which your team has more errors than hits has to be an embarrassment. I think even the kids that are playing in the Little League World Series in Pennsylvania played better that day than we did. The worst part is that I know our squad is better than what we have shown on the field in these first six games as the visiting team. Last Monday, when we began the road trip in Boston, Armando Talavera, a Venezuelan journalist based in New York, asked me my opinion on the White Sox. I answered, “I have the team to be a World Series champion.” I suppose that Armando must be thinking about recommending I see a psychiatrist to cure my delusions of grandeur. But it’s the truth. On paper, we have the talent and the material to be champions, but we need to execute.
I have never considered myself a loser and much less a pessimist, but if you ask me right now, I think we are in a difficult situation because we put ourselves in it. We know where the mountain summit is, and we have the desire to reach it, but it seems like our legs are not strong enough to get us there. At least that seems to be the case after losing those series against the Yankees and the Red Sox. On Monday we begin the last series of the road trip at the Metrodome where the Twins appear to be unbeatable. I imagine it will be a good opportunity to show we are still alive, we still have desires and that we are still in the race for the division title that we won last year with so many sacrifices.
Before I begin responding to some of your questions and comments, I want to take this opportunity to tell you that reading your positive and encouraging messages is, most of the time, a way to regain optimism in difficult moments like this one. Thank you for your loyalty and for your support.
Ben Morgan of Lincoln, Nebraska, wrote in English to ask me a question I have asked myself hundreds of times without finding an answer! Why does our offense shut down when it faces a young pitcher for the first time? Honestly, Ben, I don’t know. We know the pitcher always has an advantage over the batter who, as you point out, adapts himself and makes adjustments with each at-bat. The pitcher certainly has control of the situation, not only because he has the ball in his hand, but because he knows what pitch he is going to throw and if it will be a curve, a fastball, a changeup or a slider. He knows what speed he is going to throw at, from what height, and at what distance from the plate – high, low, inside or outside. In other words, the batter is standing at home plate with his bat in his hand, preparing to make contact with a sphere that could be coming in at 70 or 100 miles per hour, without knowing if it is going to break to one side, drop, etc. He only has a few seconds to make a decision. When the batter is unfamiliar with the pitcher, he becomes the most vulnerable of hitters because he does not know his opponent’s repertoire. But it has been that way since baseball was invented and by the second or third at-bat, the hitter should have a better understanding of the situation and make the necessary adjustments to be successful. This problem has been very costly to us this year, but I insist that I don’t know why.
Guillermo Rada of Cumana, Venezuela, says he is intrigued by what happened last year with Javier Vazquez, who is having a successful season with the Atlanta Braves. Guillermo wants to know if I put him on the spot for what he calls “poor emotional strength.” I can tell you, Guillermo, that I met Javier when I was a coach with the Montreal Expos and I always liked his attitude on the mound and his human touch. Last year he had several opportunities to help this team in crucial games and unfortunately he couldn’t get the job done. That happens in baseball.
Perhaps it was a bad year, something that everyone goes through in their careers. Personally I wish him the best of luck because as he himself said, with what he has earned up until this point he will be able to live peacefully when he retires and he will be able to spend time happily with his family.
Dr. Julio Antonio Machillanda of Porlamar, Venezuela, is one of many fans who’ve written to make comments about Cuban pitcher Jose Contreras. On this list are names such as Frank Abel Villalonga of Havana, Alfredo Valle of Tenerife, Orlando Garcia of Naples, Roberto Trujillo de Santa Cruz of Tenerife, Jorge Amaro and several others.
Oddly enough, Francisco Aguiar of Tampa, who has on several occasions sent me messages accusing me of mistreating Contreras, of not using him correctly, of not knowing when to replace him and a long list of other objections, did not write this time. Last week, a journalist in Boston asked me if Jose would start another game for Chicago. I replied that I have three kids and that I would love to live to see my grandchildren. I would not like to die prematurely of a heart attack. Nonetheless, Contreras started against the Yankees on Saturday because we simply did not have a better option. If you ask me why he’s experiencing this disaster, I must respond I do not know because it is safe to say that Contreras is a hard worker and a warrior. Some of you, in your e-mails, say that you know him from his days in Cuba and that the problem can be a lack of concentration, that he is not throwing underarm, that he is not using the forkball and a whole slew of other explanations. I, more than anyone, continue to hope that Jose will regain the form he had in 2005 when he helped us become World Series champions, especially now that we need him urgently. Let’s see what happens.
Jonathan Gallegos of Bogota also offered his opinion on Contreras and wonders why I waited so long to take him out of the game when the Red Sox scored six runs off of him in one inning. In addition to pointing out that sometimes I talk too much, something that should not surprise anyone, Jonathan offers some suggestions as to how to manage the team. Well Jonathan, I am going to repeat what I have said several times in my career. The farther you are from the field, the more intelligent you feel. Those who watch the games from the stands see everything clearly and know more than the managers and the 5 or 6 coaches in the dugout. I once said I was going to provide every fan with a cell phone so that they could call me and tell me what to do before plays and not afterwards, which is usually the case. There are many things that the fans are not aware of that influence decisions. Explaining them all would be enough to fill a book. But thanks anyways for taking a few minutes of your time to share your opinion with me.
Liz Pinto of Valencia, Venezuela, comments on the great year that Cleveland Santeliz is having with the Birmingham Barons, our Class-AA affiliate and wants to know what I think about my fellow countryman. Liz is not the only person following Santeliz, whom I described in a previous column as “a great kid with a good attitude to pitch.” Part of his success comes from staying healthy. He has been regarded as having great talent since he was signed, but the injuries had not allowed
him to prove it.
He is one of the Venezuelan players who are opening doors for themselves in our farm system and one of the players that I hope will be in the big leagues soon so that I can answer all those who ask me, on a weekly basis, why there aren’t more Venezuelan players on the White Sox if Ozzie Guillen is the manager. I hope a few are on their way.
Many also wrote in these last two weeks to comment on the addition of Freddy Garcia to our roster. Some of the questions and comments arrived before Freddy debuted with our uniform this year while others came after his second start. Elio Barroso of Charallaves, Jesus Ramos of Santa Teresa del Tuy, Roysbelk Garcia of Cua, Eliel Padrino and Reinaldo Perez of Caracas, Yubin Rios of Maracaibo, Thomas Enrique Perez Ramos, Victor Lapenta, Miguel Saldivia and many others are on the list. In an interview that appeared last Saturday in the Chicago Sun-Times, Freddy admitted that for the first time in two years he feels truly healthy and has no pain in his pitching arm. I think his start in Boston showed that. That day, Freddy proved he is in Chicago not because he married my wife’s niece, or because Kenny Williams has a charity and wants to show his appreciation to all whose who helped us win the World Series in 2005. Freddy is here because he underwent a physical showed that his shoulder was healthy and because he looked good in his minor league starts. Is he going to win all of his starts from now on? I don’t think so, but surely he is going to help, and I hope he helps enough to be considered next year when in theory we will have 4 set starters (Buehrle, Danks, Floyd and Peavy) and there will be a fifth spot up for grabs. But that is a topic for another day because for now we are focused on 2009 and on our fight to get to the postseason, for which we will need Freddy’s help.
Dario Sanchez of Valencia, Venezuela, asked me if I consider myself a member of what he calls “the new generation of Major League managers.” Well, I suppose so because aside from being a young manager in comparison to most of the current big league skippers, I also belong to a generation that has no choice but to see the game differently from how it has been viewed in the recent past.
I imagine you have guessed by now I am referring to the “steroid era” and other banned substances. This new generation that I belong to must revert to an intelligent game, one that does not depend on homeruns and is based on good defense, speed on the bases, timely plays and, of course, good pitching. I suppose that is what we will see in the next few years and the manager who makes those adjustments first is going to have an advantage over his rivals.
Marvin Jose Gomez Hernandez of Cabimas ,Venezula, wants to know if my warning that I would pay back with the same token if other teams kept plunking my players was a way of motivating my team to be more aggressive in all aspects of the game. No, in reality it was just a warning to opposing teams. A manager must protect his players in all aspects of the game and it is not acceptable that while the Chicago White Sox are the team whose pitchers have hit the least number of opposing batters in the majors, that our players are third in being hit. Someone once said, “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” And it certainly wasn’t me who said it!
Emison Soto of Maracaibo, Venezuela, wants to know who is in charge of evaluating young talent in our country. Emison, our scout is Amador Arias.
Professor Miguel Antonio Narvaez of San Carlos in the state of Cojedes in Venezuela writes to ask my help with starting a baseball academy in that region. Jean Carlos Viloria of Chichiriviche makes a similar request for a little league team in that town, located in the state of Falcon. If it were up to me, I would be starting baseball teams all over the world, in part to show my gratitude for all this sport has meant in my life. Nonetheless, the foundation that my wife oversees in Venezuela has decided to allocate the few resources we have to children’s health, which is just as important or even more important than sports. This foundation, by the way, does not make fixed contributions to any institution, but it also has no expenses because those who help Ibis in her work do so free of charge. No one is paid a single penny. Our occasional funds come from events that we organize ourselves (autograph signings, auctions of items from the Major Leagues, etc.) that unfortunately, in the last few years we have not been able to have because of my multiple commitments. Nonetheless, every year we seek help in order to honor our commitment to the Association of Parents of Children with Cancer, to whom we donate more than 350 Christmas gifts. More importantly, we attend their Christmas party. Thank God that there are entities like Polar and Tiburones of La Guaira that help us keep serving this organization that does such extraordinary work. I promise when we have more resources I will consider your requests.
Rafael Garcia of Margarita, Venezuela, sent me a list of Venezuelan players who belong to other teams and asked me which ones I would like to have in Chicago. Although I am not the person who hires players, certainly on Rafael’s list there are names that any manager would want on his roster. Nonetheless, they have all made commitments to their respective organizations, which are not likely to let them go because of their quality. Venezuelan players are more and more sought-after in this market, which should fill baseball lovers in their country with pride.
Two questions from the “Wild West.” Angel Rivera of Tucson, Arizona, solicits my opinion about Puerto Rican Alex Rios. Well Angel, I think Alex is going to help us a lot although he has not yet reached his full potential. I think he is still adjusting. And Carlos Castillo of El Plano, Texas, asks why we did not walk Mike Lowell intentionally in the game against Boston that Jose Contreras lost. According to Carlos, Contreras was nervous. Imagine that! From Texas, you knew that Contreras, a veteran of a thousand battles in Cuba, was nervous and that Lowell was going to hit a home run off of him. It’s true that the farther you get from the field, the more intelligent people are.
Ramiro Perez of Orlando, Florida, asks what my relationship is like with the Chicago media. The best way to find out, Ramiro, is to go online and look at the different newspapers in the city. I think you will come to the same conclusion that I have: that the press treats me very well.
Ender Elias Chaparro Camargo is a boy from Marcaibo, a town in the Venezuelan state of Zulia, who is in the United States representing the team from the Coquivacoa League in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. As I write I am not sure how our team is doing in the event, but nonetheless I wish Ender and his teammates the best of luck and I hope that they will take full advantage of this experience, which will be an unforgettable one in their lives. Who knows, maybe in the future I will run into many of them in the Major Leagues.
Leonardo Ferrero, also of Maracaibo, wants to know if any of my sons are playing professional baseball at the moment and why Jake Peavy’s debut has taken so long. Leonardo, my middle son, Oney, played in the minor leagues for a couple of years but now he works in Chicago’s front office. My youngest, Ozney, is 17 years old. He is in his last year of high school and dreams about playing professionally. We shall see.
That’s all the answers for today. There are a few questions remaining that I will try to answer in my next column, but I cannot say good-bye before expressing my gratitude for all the messages, comments, opinions and criticisms. All are welcome. Special greetings go out to Raul Avilan, Johars Jimenez, Gladys Perez, Yole Mata and Roman Orive of Caracas, Cesar Reyes and his family from Vargas, Wilmer Aponte of Turmero, Michael Gamez of Chicago, Orlando Rafael Figueroa Reyes of Carora, Rafael Garcia of Margarita, Juan Carlos Marin of Miami, Rafael Paez of Los Teques, Francisco Gar
cia of La Asunción and the many other people who honored me with their attention.
Check back in two weeks, when I hope to be writing with one foot in the postseason!