Ozzie Guillen ready for Wrigley
CHICAGO -- Ozzie Guillen is prepared for a hostile reception this week as his Miami Marlins start a three-game set Tuesday against the Cubs in Chicago, and Guillen quite frankly seems to be looking forward to his return.
"They don't like me there, and I don't blame them," Guillen said this past weekend in Miami.
Guillen, who managed the Chicago White Sox for eight years before leaving for Miami at the end of last season, isn't the only one making a homecoming, though. There is also former White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle, who returns in a Marlins uniform and will take the mound Thursday.
They don't like me there, and I don't blame them.” -- Ozzie Guillen
Still, the most anticipated return of the week figures to center on Carlos Zambrano, who had a rocky road the past two seasons in a Cubs uniform. Zambrano, who will not pitch in the series, was traded to the Marlins in early January in one of the first moves made by the new front office in an effort to establish a new clubhouse culture on the North Side.
Guillen knows who is going to get the most attention from Cubs fans this week.
"(Zambrano) is going to have fun," Guillen said. "I want to be next to him and hear that, because if I'm next to him, they don't know which one they are going to boo. They say, 'Boooo.' I say, 'Which one? Me or him?' "
Guillen is familiar with the scene of a player returning to his former town with a new club and knows that it usually isn't pretty. When noted nice guy Jim Thome returned to Cleveland with the White Sox, the Indians fans let him have it. Guillen ripped the Cleveland fans afterward.
If and when Cubs fans let Zambrano have it, Guillen won't have any objections. He knows that Zambrano wore out his welcome by alienating some Cubs teammates and disappointing fans. The pitcher's volatile nature crossed the line one too many times.
"They can boo Zambrano; Zambrano should be booed," Guillen said. "They asked me today in Chicago, 'What do you expect?' I just came from Chicago (after the All-Star break). I went to the airport VIP: 'Hey Mr. Guillen, go this way.' But we're going to Wrigley Field and it's different.
"Carlos had a tough time the last few years he was there and he should be expect to have people talking (about him)."
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An interesting aside to it all is that Guillen expects people in the stands who will be there just to let him and a couple of his players have it. It isn't lost on Guillen that extra people in attendance actually benefits the Cubs.
"How many people do they hold, 35,000?" Guillen said. "I expect them to boo Ozzie and Carlos. Please, cough up the money to rebuild the ballclub. Go ahead."
So bring your best shots, Cubs fans. Guillen just hopes it doesn't go too far.
"It's going to be interesting and fun," Guillen said. "Hopefully they don't overdo it by calling him names or calling him something they aren't supposed to say. They can boo. They can say anything they want. But as long as they don't cross the line, just go out and have fun. I want to be out there (during batting practice) to see it. I'm not going to but I would love to be out there to see what they are saying.
"Carlos still has good friends on the team. You know what is funny, Carlos did a lot of great stuff for that city and pitched great for them, too. That's part of the game. Part of baseball is, 'What have you done lately for us?' And, 'We remember you.' But he did a lot of good things."
As for Buehrle, a fan favorite on the South Side for so many years, he figures to have some detractors, too, but Guillen predicts some supporters as well.
"You will see a lot of White Sox fans there (Thursday)," Guillen said. "(Buehrle) is the White Sox's baby."