Elusive second title keeps Williams on task

February, 26, 2012
2/26/12
6:43
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- If you think Chicago White Sox general manager Kenny Williams isn’t looking forward to another twelve years with the team, you may be mistaken. Entering his 13th season, Williams seems more motivated than ever.

“The day I was hired for the job I said I wanted to win at least two World Series titles,” Williams said. “That goal hasn’t been accomplished, so you keep plugging away and work hard to do just that.”

[+] EnlargeKen Williams
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireChicago White Sox general manager Ken Williams watches the full team spring training workout in a golf cart at Camelback Ranch.
Tough times involving both personnel and personal trauma have taken a toll on the hard-driving Willams. His battles with former Sox manager Ozzie Guillen over the last eight years are a part of baseball folklore, and dealing with several family issues, including threats against his son Kyle Williams after the NFL’s NFC Championship game, has become yet another distraction.

But with a new manager, Robin Ventura, in place and a different way of building the ballclub give the 48-year-old California native more reason to stay on the job.

”This is a familiar situation that Robin is walking into because of the continuity of the organization,” Williams said. “We still have to be aware of new ideas to implement into our plans. So with the new group in place, a lot of us are in the listening mode trying to bring fresh ideas to the table and we have done just that with some of the coaches’ ideas.”

Fiscal control of the amateur draft and Latin American signings have Williams and the club looking to rebuild the team that way for the first time in 20 years.

“With the new [collective bargaining agreement], money across the board [to sign young players] will be even for all 30 clubs,” Williams said. “So good scouting and not just outspending other teams will be the key to obtaining the best young talent in the world. As the rules are constituted now, the game has helped point us in that area.”

How long Williams stays on the job is anyone’s guess. Late in the 2011 season he asked team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf if he wanted him to step aside from the job. Instead Reinsdorf gave him a vote of confidence and decided to let Guillen go to the Miami Marlins with one year left on his contract.

“I was not tired of the job but if there was any type of feeling of anything preventing the group from making any kind of move with me, I wanted to eliminate that right away,” Williams said. “I said, ‘If you want me here, great. If not, I am willing to move into another job or out altogether.’”

New challenges are what Williams looks forward to every day, and in addition to being driven to impact his team, he also desires to make a difference for his fellow man.

“I do have an interest in the Chicago public school system and helping the police and firefighters get better recognition and better compensation including better health care packages,” Williams said. “Yes, I do want to do other things, but I am a baseball man all the way. I like the atmosphere and the challenges of the game and the people in it. I look forward to the pursuit of another championship that will never go away.”

If Williams does bring another title to the south side, he has an idea of what he’d like to do next.

“I would love to be involved in an ownership level at some time, but this is not that time,” Williams said.

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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BA LEADER
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RBIA. Ramirez 14
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OPSA. Ramirez 1.044
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ERAC. Sale 2.30
SOC. Sale 29