CHICAGO – Is it possible that Manny Ramirez’s presence will bring the Ozzie Guillen-Kenny Williams feud to a full boil?
Guillen hasn’t come out and said that having Ramirez around is a problem, but in between the lines it seems as if having Ramirez in a White Sox uniform is causing some friction.
“I have to squeeze Manny [into the lineup] the most I can,” Guillen said. “Oh yeah. Every time Manny sits on the bench, I’m going to take away everything he got.”
Take away from everything he got?
The reason it didn’t make sense is because Guillen was about to say one thing then veered off to say nothing at all, perhaps because he didn’t want to offer something he might regret. He might have been about to say that he has been told to play Ramirez every day because he immediately tried to cover his tracks.
“Kenny and Jerry [Reinsdorf] never get involved with my lineup,” Guillen said. “They never did and I don’t think they ever will. I hope not. You never know. But all of a sudden you don’t play Manny for three or four days and he’s healthy … we bring this guy here to play every day.
“I don’t blame them to be that way. But they never get into my lineup, they never did. I do the lineup the best I can and pick a matchup here and there who plays better, but playing time for the rest of the guys, they have to wait and see how I handle it.”
This does not seem to be about Ramirez himself. It’s not like Guillen has a problem with a guy who draws as much attention as he does, or that Ramirez served a drug suspension last year, or that Ramirez wasn’t able to carry the White Sox back into the Central race. By all accounts, Guillen seems to like Ramirez just fine.
This might have everything to do with the fact that Guillen felt his best chance to win was with the squad he had been managing all season. Williams obviously felt differently and brought in Ramirez on a gamble that he might be able to put a charge into the lineup.
But that meant Guillen would have little to no playing time left for Mark Kotsay, whom he obviously respects. It also meant that Paul Konerko or Carlos Quentin couldn’t get a day off their feet by going into the lineup as the designated hitter every once in a while. That is one of the main reasons the well-liked Jim Thome wasn’t asked back.
By bringing aboard Ramirez, Williams was essentially forcing Guillen’s hand with lineup decisions. Or at least that’s how Guillen seems to look at it.
“In the meanwhile it’s hard for me to make the lineup every day because of that situation,” Guillen said about Ramirez’s presence.
Guillen was asked if he sees a scenario where the free-agent-to-be Ramirez might return White Sox next season.
“I don’t know. I say a couple of days ago that this is my job,” Guillen said while lifting up a lineup card. “Whoever is here, I write it down. The last time we have a conversation about that [not bringing back a player], it’s a heavy load I take all summer.”
Guillen was referring to the heat he took over the club not signing Thome, who is helping the Twins to an AL Central title.
“I know Kenny will put a winning team back on the field,” Guillen said. “I think we have a great thing going right now. Juan (Pierre) is coming back, (Alex) Rios is there, we have Carlos, we have the second baseman [Gordon Beckham], we have the shortstop [Alexei Ramirez]. Our package is pretty good.
“Now it’s Kenny’s decision who is going to be around those guys. The starting pitching is in great shape. In the bullpen we find a couple of guys there that can do the job. Put a piece here and there and get this ballclub to compete for another year.”