After sweeping the Nationals last weekend the White Sox were the hottest team in baseball, having won 10 of their last 11 games. But thanks to their terrible start they were still 5½ games back in the AL Central, and the winning streak couldn't mask the fact that the mood is edgy on the South Side. General manager Ken Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen have squabbled so much this year that one team insider suggested several weeks ago that Williams would fire Guillen if he could. Of course, that might be awkward: Team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is famously loyal and a staunch supporter of his manager, a personal alliance that only adds to the soap opera surrounding the club.
The latest dispute between G.M. and manager followed the draft earlier this month, when the White Sox took Guillen's son Ozney, an 18-year-old high school outfielder in Miami, in the 22nd round. The elder Guillen was disappointed that Ozney went so late and told reporters he would give his son $50,000 to go to college and avoid signing a deal at such a lowly draft position. Guillen's other son, Oney, 24, who resigned as a Sox video scouting technician in May after a dispute over his tweeting about the team, took more shots at the White Sox on Twitter. One example, from the night of June 8: "the cold war between manager and GM is as frigid as ever."
The next night Williams and his manager argued; SI confirmed a Chicago Sun-Times report that they nearly came to blows. Reinsdorf then publicly implored the pair to get along, saying, "You guys can't have this kind of bull----."
Williams is understandably annoyed by Guillen's inability to control his son's tweeting, but more substantive issues have surfaced. For example, Williams is said to be bewildered by Guillen's playing of weak-armed Juan Pierre in leftfield, while Gold Glove outfielder Andruw Jones is used at DH. Williams says, "I go out and get the players. When it comes to making out the lineup card, that's the manager's job."
While traveling with the team in Pittsburgh last week, the G.M. called the postdraft blowup "a very passionate discussion." (Guillen declined to comment to SI.) "[Guillen] is a person who has a very strong will. And so do I," Williams added. "Occasionally we're going to bump heads."
According to a team insider Williams is also unlikely to be fired by Reinsdorf, who is happy that the team has been a perennial contender. Thanks to the recent hot streak, Williams has some tough decisions to make. When the team was out of contention it seemed likely that he would trade veterans like free-agent-to-be first baseman Paul Konerko. But now the team likely will be kept intact. As for Guillen, Williams says they can coexist. Whatever differences they have, the G.M. appreciates Guillen's genius: "He's pretty good at the managing of ball games."
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Photograph by MATTHEW EMMONS--US PRESSWIRE
COLD WARRIOR One of Guillen's sons tweeted that the manager's relationship with Williams is "frigid."