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Thursday, July 9, 2009
Prior warning

By Bruce Levine

Alfonso Soriano's outrage after not being told he was going to be benched on Wednesday is not surprising, considering the way modern superstar baseball players are treated.

Factually, Cubs manager Lou Piniella usually tells his players in advance that an off-day is coming. But does he really have to tell a player making $17 million a year when to be ready?

White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko told me today that manager Ozzie Guillen and bench coach Joey Cora sometimes will give the big boys two days notice of an off-day.

"When we were in Kansas City last week, Joey came to me on Friday and told me I'd have Sunday off," Konerko said.

With that information, Konerko had both Sunday and Monday -- which was a scheduled off-day for the team -- to rest, giving him two off-days in a row.

How did Konerko respond? He had a career night with three home runs, while driving in seven on Tuesday.

I asked Guillen today what his philosophy is on superstar players.

"I always told my guys in advance, [Jermaine] Dye, [Jim] Thome, A.J. [Pierzynski], Paulie, they all get notice, so they know they can relax the night before and have a total day off the next day," Guillen said. "Besides that, you need to let other guys who are going to play for the star player know they're going to play that position. It's only fair to them so they can prepare."

Guillen, however, has mixed feelings about his role as a manager giving guys days off.

"I don't think a manager should always do what we do, because everybody should be ready to play every day," Guillen said. "The thing for me is I want to show a little respect to my veteran guys. But old-school, you should show up to play everyday.

"When I give a guy a day off, it's a day off. Don't want them to stretch, take [batting practice], nothing. However, I will ask the player to be ready pending on what happens during the game, in case I need to use them."

Guillen then told me how one off-day for him personally blew up in his face.

"I remember being told I wasn't going to play against Randy Johnson," he said. "I went out that night. When I came in the next day, the guy that was supposed to play for me was in worse shape than I was. That's the way actually you want to face Randy Johnson in his prime anyway, not really knowing what's going on."

You should always be prepared to play. The manager has the right to change his mind anytime for the good of the team."

Soriano's a good guy and a good teammate. But in this case he probably should have said nothing, just worn it.