Guillen: No tension with Williams

By Scott Merkin
Updated: March 14, 2010

LAS VEGAS — To say Ken Williams and Ozzie Guillen worked together in helping produce one of the greatest moments in Chicago sports history is much more of an understatement than an exaggeration.

Their relationship has been described as much as brothers as strong-willed employer and employee. Yet, recent reports have suggested there might be a little tension between the man who hired the White Sox charismatic manager and the manager himself in the team’s otherwise harmonious family.

According to Guillen, don’t read too much into that strained relationship theory with Williams. In fact, Guillen didn’t feel a need to go there at all.

“No, no, and it’s funny because I think people out there think that,” Guillen told prior to Friday’s contest with the Cubs at Cashman Field to start Big League Weekend in Las Vegas. “There’s definitely a mutual respect. Kenny is doing his job and I’m doing my job.

“I would never go over Kenny’s head for any reason. He’s my boss. A lot of people misunderstand where we are at and think we bump head to head every day. You have to come here every day to see how we handle things.”

Discussion of the Williams-Guillen dynamic has come up during the past three weeks in Arizona. Part of the talk has centered on Guillen’s foray into the world of Twitter and Williams’ ensuing initial objection, and that issue gained some steam on Thursday when news came out of a Guillen-centric Web site that was not wholeheartedly approved by the organization.

Leaning back in his chair in a rather small managerial office at Cashman Field on Friday, Guillen explained how he understood Williams’ decision on the Web site. He also spoke of how off-the-field forces and opportunities that sometimes pull Guillen in eight different directions won’t affect his ultimate on-the-field focus.

It’s a championship goal Guillen ultimately shares with Williams, one they achieved in 2005. “We are pulling from the same rope, and that rope is to win,” Guillen said.

“It’s kind of crazy when people come to [Williams] and ask him what is going to happen off the field. We talked about [the Web site], and the reason I don’t do what I wanted to do is because of respect I have for Kenny, the organization and baseball.

“There’s never anything I would do to hurt the organization. I had an idea for one thing, and Kenny worried about stuff about his ballclub.

This is his ballclub, his organization, and he has to make sure he can control that and he knows we are doing the right thing for the organization.

“Kenny thought it was not the best thing for the organization,” Guillen said. “That’s why I respect that decision. This is my priority, my job.”

Guillen said his relationship with Williams actually has “gotten better” over the past seven years since coming on as the White Sox manager on Nov. 3, 2003. Guillen joked how the two hadn’t really seen each other for 10 years before he wowed Williams during the job interview.

“All of a sudden we see each other every day and all summer,” Guillen said. “We know each other more. We talk more. I think in 2004, I [didn’t] really know the man.”

They know each other well enough now where talk isn’t solely limited to roster moves, possible trades or yesterday’s game. There are discussions about family, life and other non-related baseball problems or concerns.

A rather slow camp, news-wise, has turned the Williams-Guillen saga into a temporary front-page story or, at the very least, has earned it extra staying power. The White Sox really have only two 25-man roster spots to decide upon, utility infielder and seventh reliever.

With relatively few injury concerns, stories such as Twitter and Web sites have taken center stage. If you are reading into these disagreements as problems between the organization’s two front men, then Guillen said that thought process would be completely off the mark.

There certainly are disagreements, but they aren’t limited to Williams and Guillen in the hierarchy of the organization. It’s all in the name of success.

“That’s our goal. That’s where we try to focus,” Guillen said. “That’s what Kenny wants everyone to do, focus on winning games.

“People think we hate each other, from what I hear. No, we don’t. He has his job to do and I have my job to do, to make this organization a winner.

“Besides that, it’s kind of funny when I read this thing about we are fighting every day and don’t get along,” Guillen said. “‘Who’s going to win the battle [between the two]?’ Well, it’s not about the battle.”