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Guillen answers McCarthy's criticism

Guillen answers McCarthy's criticism

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Ozzie Guillen used a Friday morning interview on WSCR 670, the White Sox flagship station, to sternly answer comments made by Brandon McCarthy in an article from the Chicago Sun-Times.

This particular story ran in the Feb. 21 edition of the newspaper. But apparently there's no statue of limitations on Guillen's animated retort when the criticism has something to do with the White Sox clubhouse or a negative attitude shown by the White Sox staff.

McCarthy spoke of how the Texas clubhouse was very comfortable, after just a few days of the right-hander being in camp, feeling more like a college dorm for the 23-year-old. He pointed out how most of the White Sox players are married, and it was tough for younger, single guys like himself and Brian Anderson to relate.

There also was mention of how the White Sox "always seemed to be focused on the negative," whereas the Rangers expected him to do well from the moment he was traded to Texas on Dec. 23. With those points in mind, Guillen constructed a typically direct reply.

"When he said that we weren't positive with him, I said, 'Well, when you pitch like [garbage], you can't be positive,'" said Guillen during the interview, when asked what comments bothered him the most from McCarthy. "I don't like the comments he made about our clubhouse, our players or about us negative people here.

"One thing about Ozzie Guillen," Guillen continued. "Ozzie Guillen is never negative. I think one of the biggest reasons I'm managing the ballclub is because I'm always positive. I don't care how bad you play. I'm going to go out and tell the truth, but we're going to make sure that you are going to get better."

In his opening line of the interview, Guillen said, "I really hate him," when referring to McCarthy. But Guillen explained to the media a few hours later how he didn't like McCarthy's comments, which was the point he was trying to make, and had absolutely nothing against the pitcher himself. Guillen also tried to support McCarthy the best he possibly could, even as he struggled in the unfamiliar relief role.

"I don't hate him. He pitched for me, pitched good for me. He was one of my players," said Guillen. "It's one thing about me, I can be a [jerk]. I can be the biggest [jerk] in the game, the biggest mouth, whatever you call me.

"But, I'm not a negative guy. I'm the type of guy, when you're down, I try to extend my hands to try and get you out of there."

So, why did this McCarthy-Guillen exchange even take place? It could be a case of confusion turning into frustration for McCarthy, who is set as part of the Rangers' starting rotation for 2007 and beyond. When the White Sox starters struggled during the second half of the 2006 campaign, McCarthy was constantly questioned by the media as to why he wasn't getting a chance to step up into the rotation.

Those questions were relayed to Guillen, who pointed out on a few occasions that McCarthy wasn't exactly knocking down hitters in a relief role. During the offseason, general manager Ken Williams made it clear how McCarthy either would start for the White Sox or move back to the Triple-A Charlotte rotation, but the relief experiment officially was over.

The fifth starter's spot looked to belong to McCarthy after Freddy Garcia was traded to Philadelphia, but McCarthy was moved shortly thereafter in a deal Williams couldn't refuse. According to Anderson, who remains close friends with McCarthy, the recent comments also could be the result of a blow to McCarthy's ego.

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"I think he loved playing here, loved the city and the team," Anderson said. "I don't think he hates anyone. It's just a big misunderstanding. I don't know what was said. I don't talk to Brandon about that kind of stuff, but Brandon is one of those guys, he definitely takes things personally about that kind of stuff.

"He and I are very different, and I think that's why we're good friends. He likes to goof around and have a good time, but he can get offended pretty easily. At the same time, I don't think he's bitter at anyone. He just speaks his mind, and it probably gets taken the wrong way."

That same theory could apply to Guillen, who also clarified an interview comment he made concerning Anderson, stating that if Anderson was McCarthy's only friend, "he picked the wrong guy to be friends with." Guillen explained how he chose friends such as Harold Baines, Greg Walker, Richard Dotson and Tom Seaver when he came to the big leagues, good people from whom he could also learn the game.

In his apparent shot at Anderson, he was referring more to McCarthy seeking out a veteran presence.

"Off the field, I [couldn't] care less what they do," Guillen said. "On the field, to learn what to do, pick Freddy Garcia to teach you.

"So many guys here can teach you stuff. Off the field, you're not my kid. On the field, that's why I say, when you're a kid, you should lean towards a veteran player, not another kid."

Guillen also spoke during the interview of McCarthy getting "caught a couple of times out at night." Both McCarthy, who spoke prior to the Rangers' game Friday in Surprise, and Anderson admitted to going out in Chicago to unwind.

They also categorically denied ever having a problem getting prepared for the next day's game.

"It wasn't a point where our extracurricular activities were getting in the way of baseball. It never has," said Anderson, who admitted both he and McCarthy went out when they were struggling simply to get their mind off baseball. He also understood how those nights out could be taken the wrong way by fans bumping into them at local establishments.

"I'm not the type that can just sit around," added McCarthy, who felt what he said in the original article was overblown. "If Anderson and I did go out, it wasn't like we were just going out to drink. I can honestly say that not once did I show up to the park the next day not ready to play because I went out or was hung over."

Texas and the White Sox meet for the first time in Cactus League play on March 13 in Surprise, but both Guillen and McCarthy expressed a desire to let this whole incident blow over after Friday's commentary. Guillen even understood where McCarthy was coming from after the trade, talking about how he criticized then general manager Ron Schueler when the team opted for Mike Caruso and Benji Gill at shortstop by letting Guillen go prior to the 1998 campaign.

His shots were aimed at Schueler and the team in general, Guillen said, not about the clubhouse or his former teammates. And if spring controversies involving Magglio Ordonez, Frank Thomas and Carl Everett from the past two years have shown anything, it's that Guillen and the White Sox are fiercely protective of the organization.

"When you talk about negative clubhouse attitude ... One thing about our clubhouse, I think we have one of the best attitudes [in baseball]," Guillen said. "I don't have anything about Brandon, no way. Is this thing going to continue to go on and on? No, that's it. I said what I said. He said what he had to say."

"Now, that the games have started, hopefully things like this are trivial," McCarthy added. "I'm just trying to do my part to get out there and make sure that people know I wasn't taking a shot at their clubhouse, Ozzie, the city or the front office."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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