Ozzie Guillen pregame interview
Manager discusses the chemistry of the White Sox
You've seen the pitching all year long, but do you think they've even stepped it up a little bit in the postseason?
OZZIE GUILLEN: Oh, I think so. I think (Jose) Contreras made it happen. They followed up and they tried to execute like we did. I think those guys, you've seen those kids pitch all year long, I don't see much difference between the regular season right now. When they step it up a notch and pitch against a tremendous offensive team, it's something we were looking for. I think those guys, we expect that from them. Surprised a little bit that they throw complete games, but surprised they've going to pitch a good game, no. Surprised they're pitching a complete game, yes.
You saw what happened to your team when (Scott) Podsednik was injured and kind of slumping. How important has it been to shut down (Chone) Figgins in this series so far?
GUILLEN: I think the key on that team, most of the time you worry about the middle of the lineup. To me the way we play, the way we pitch, I think it's more important the first and second hitter, they take care of the rest. In the playoffs it seems like the third and fourth and fifth hitter, they've got to hit because they throw more careful to them, "Don't let this guy beat you." The seven, the eight and the nine, that's the one that's going to get you. I think you have to concentrate on the nine hitter. They're real dangerous. But Figgins is a key for us. This kid, he was a pain in the back against us in the regular season.
There's one thing about we pitched the way we did, and I think the reason we shut it down like that is because we tried to keep Figgins out of the basepaths.
With Mike Scioscia having adjusted his lineup a little bit, is that a sign you guys have them scrambling?
GUILLEN: No, not really. I think the only change is the DH. When you move people up and down line ups, it doesn't mean anything because I think right now with the new DH they have, Casey Kotchman, facing Freddy (Garcia) you want to have another lefty in the line up, and I think that's the reason they did it. Those guys can turn the page in a hurry. That's the kind of line up they have. They can be shut down, they can be slowed down, but I think they're going to shut it down. They have such good hitters, like you never know what's going to happen. Hopefully it doesn't happen too soon. These guys, they are tremendous hitters. They know how to do it.
El Duque (Hernandez) has yet to pitch in the series. Have you seen him serve more as a second pitching coach, specifically in the case of Jose (Contreras)?
GUILLEN: El Duque is like Jose's brother. I think it's one of the biggest help we have for him besides winning for us. I think this guy knows how to handle Jose. I think Jose trusts El Duque a lot. They come in with the same attitude in the game, the same way to think.
You know, one of the reasons we signed him here, besides helping us to win games, was we need some help for Jose, make sure Jose feels comfortable. There's no doubt in my mind El Duque had a lot to do with this.
Ozzie, your starting pitching has been so good, your bullpen in an inning last week. Are you concerned they're maybe a little rusty or out of rhythm?
GUILLEN: Well, I don't have to use them until April next year. Believe me, the way we throw, I think we have the grace , in a situation, every manager in baseball will always worry about the bullpen, how rested they are. Not really. I think they throw the ball every day. Whoever I call, I have a lot of confidence they will do their job. But in my mind, I hope Freddy Garcia throws nine inning shutout again. I know they'll be ready when they we call.
GUILLEN: Because we're not that smart. We just go play. You look in the clubhouse right now, everybody is watching football and a lot of people are having fun, some guys are playing cards. We don't think about it. We just think about as soon as the national anthem is over, we're ready to go. I think we have confidence. We played 162 games with the same attitude. Whatever happened the day before, we don't care until the next day. It was over, that night it was over, and we start over the next day.
When you play with that attitude and you play with the same way every day, when you come to the playoffs, you still treat it again the same way. The only difference I tell them, the only difference between the playoff and the regular season, you've got to win quicker and there's going to be more media, more attention, but besides that it's just baseball.
I think these guys treat the playoff games the same way.
Would you like to see Podsednik push the defense a little bit and try to be a little aggressive with the bunt, try to show at least and plant a new seed to get on base in different ways? He's hit well, but would you like to see that happen?
GUILLEN: Well, right now when you have Figgins at third base and a Gold Glove at first base, it's hard to bunt. A lot of people know you're going to bunt, a lot of people know your legs is going to beat you. I just want him to get on base and make it happen. Every time this kid gets on base we feel like something is going to happen right away. That happened with all the games in Boston, too. Every time this kid gets on base, something is going on because we have the team type of team to play around him, and I think this kid shows when he's on base, they put attention to him, (Tadahito) Iguchi does a good job and it seems like we're going to score every time this kid has a good at bat.
Ozzie, you said earlier in the last couple days that you've noticed more support in Chicago for you and the White Sox. Do you think that's going to increase if you guys continue to go along, and do you want the support of Cubs fans?
GUILLEN: Yeah. I said before, I hope the White Sox fans don't take it the wrong way like they always take me, they always take me the wrong way. On our chest, in the beautiful city of Chicago, it says "White Sox". When we play on the road, we represent Chicago, the city, and I think we've got something that's going on here that's nice for the city. I think we have something going on that's something good for sport in Chicago, and when you're a true Cubs fan or true White Sox fan, I think I'll be wrong, I think anybody that's a Cubs fan is really true, but I want the support from him because we represent a big city and a nice city.
You've said that to unlock the true Contreras, he needed to be more comfortable both professionally and personally and that that was something he could do in Chicago. How big a role did he play in that process? Did you guys just anticipate his needs, or did he tell you, "I need this kind of thing," and ask you for help?
GUILLEN: I cannot say anything about the New York Yankees and New York City. I think that's one of the best cities and one of the best teams ever in the game. But when you come from where Contreras come from, all of a sudden you go from there to New York, when you expect to win, you expect to do good when you sign a big contract, people are going to be on your butt every day, and you have to do good every day. It's not the manager, it's not the team. It may be the fans, may be the media, they say, "Well, this guy makes this money, he has to perform right away." There's a lot of pressure. It's a lot to do.
All of a sudden this kid was tipping pitches. His arm was there. There's no doubt he's one of the best arms in the big leagues right now, in the baseball for the last three years. The confidence is not there because the mentality of this kid, when they fail, they think that "I let the people down, I let my manager down, I let my fans, I let my teammates down," because that's what they think where he comes from. When they lose a game where Contreras comes from, they say, "Wow, I let my country down." Then when he comes to us, I say, hey, just one pitch at a time, and it was a long process to get where he got, but I think the confidence and the communication with him, maybe that we speak the same language, maybe he's my kid's best friend, it's a lot of things involved for Jose to say go on and don't worry about what people say and what they think. Most of the time when Jose has a tough time, he always says something, "I let you down. I let the team down." I say, "Don't worry about it. There's a lot of people and next time be better."
That's what he worries about, letting people down.
Everybody talks about the starting pitching and (Paul) Konerko has a lot of attention. How big is Iguchi doing? He's doing the same stuff he's doing all year?
GUILLEN: I keep saying he's my MVP and people make fun of me. This kid can do it all, run, squeeze, hit a home run when you need it, make the plays when you need it, steal a base, give you good at bats, and it's not easy when you come from Japan your first year. Every day is a learning process, new pitching, new hitters, new cities, new ballclubs, new ballparks, so many things this kid has to deal with.
It's amazing the way he plays. Because of the language barrier, communication, this kid has to put a lot of things in his mind just to go out and play. To me that's good enough, what he done on the field so far because this kid is so smart, he plays basic baseball, doesn't make that many mistakes, and he's a pretty good baseball man, real good baseball player.
At the trade deadline there was a lot of talk about Kenny (Williams) going after a big bat. He talked a little bit about it yesterday, saying, "Sometimes the best moves are the moves you don't make." Are you thankful in a way that the chemistry in your clubhouse was not disrupted by a big bopper coming here and that the guys that you've gone to battle with all year have come through on this stage?
GUILLEN: Well, the thing was when we was in the trade deadline, we were like 12 games up, 11, I don't know how many games up. And I talked to Kenny, I said, "Listen, don't fix something that's not broken. It's not fair for my team after they played so good for me and have such a good thing to bring somebody over, like we need somebody." We really don't feel that way. But the thing was if we don't make the playoff, Kenny would be criticized because we lose because he doesn't bring the people we need. Well, we don't need anybody. We have people there, they're not bigger than the game.
We have people in the clubhouse, they've got to show up every day and play for me and play for the White Sox the way they should be playing. My rules, dealing with me every day, throwing some players under the bus once in a while, most every day. Every time they see me in the clubhouse, they go, "Vroom, under the bus." There's one thing about me, I will tell my players the truth, and they know me. Once in a while we bring somebody, they don't know me, don't know my team, be late for the national anthem. I don't want superstars, I want good players. To be a good player is you will play to win, not for your numbers or for your stats or to be the best in the game.
I think we have a pretty good chemistry in this ballclub and I don't want to change it. I told Kenny, "I want to lose with the guys who die for me," and they did it.
Just to follow up on that, the chemistry and the relationships with players, how much of that goes back to your experiences when you were a player?
GUILLEN: I think it was different because when I was player, when you see your manager, wow, like when I got to the big leagues, I saw Tony La Russa, it was "Like, wow, don't get too close to the managers." Now players make so much money and they think they can do whatever they can do. If I'm late he can't do anything to me because you're not going to bench me, not going to release me, not going to trade me. Well, with the White Sox it's a little bit different because I don't care how much money you make, I don't care how good, if you don't go by my book, you're not going to play for the White Sox.
I'm going to thank Jerry (Reinsdorf) and Kenny because they're behind me in supporting me in this. We've got to be real careful what we bring to this ballclub. I worry about 25 guys, not one. I will treat Paul Konerko the same way I treat Pablo Ozuna; with respect, loyalty and trust. Once in a while we're going to need Pablo Ozuna to play for us, not Paul Konerko. The only thing that's different is every 15 days they've got a different paycheck. But by my rules they're all the same. You go there, I see guys late, you know, I let the players take care I want players to play the game right and play the way it should be played.
Tomorrow is going to be the first time in these playoffs that you're going to see the same pitcher you've seen before a short time ago in (Paul) Byrd and with Jose going against him. Can you talk about what that's like, a quick turnaround when you're facing a guy you just played against?
GUILLEN: Well, I'll take my chance. I think we faced Byrdie in the first game. I don't think their approach was one we should have taken. We should have better swinging the first game than we did, and I think that now we know what we're going to see, now we know what we expect from him.
But Jose, if Jose keeps throwing the ball the way he throws the ball, I will take my chances with him. This kid has been great for us and he goes and continues to throw the ball the way he throws the ball the last couple of months.
Do you feel like the success you've had that maybe it'll open the doors for more Latino managers in baseball or do you care about that at all or what's your feelings on that situation?
GUILLEN: Well, it's a tough situation. I think Felipe (Alou) and Tony (Pena) they opened the door for me at that particular time. It's a lot of responsibility when you come to here and you play, maybe have success, and a lot of people think about a Latin job. But I think the team has the right to pick the guy he thinks is the best for the team, not because you are Latin you should have a job. Should people trust any Latin player? Of course, we're going to have a lot of Latin coaches that will be managing in the big leagues, no doubt about it. I think the way this game is going right now there's a lot of opportunity for Latin people to take advantage of that situation.
I think Latin coaches and Latin players, they should be prepared better, better than me, because I never thought I was going to have this job so early, and I think, there's no doubt in my mind, that pretty soon we will have more Latin guys. Hopefully my success will help them to get the job, but it's up to them and it's up to the management hiring Latin managers.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.