Williams shrugs off Guillen's comments

Williams shrugs off comments

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Kenny Williams has done this follow-up interview before during Ozzie Guillen's entertaining five-year tenure as White Sox manager.

Actually, let's adjust that opening statement to a number of times before.

Guillen makes some sort of public statement about his status as the White Sox man in charge, such as his talk at the end of 2005 of his possible retirement if the team won the World Series, and the general manager is left to respond.

On Sunday, Williams was questioned about Guillen's comments made to the Chicago Sun Times concerning his contractual thoughts if the White Sox started off slowly once again in 2008.

The gist of the commentary was that if the White Sox struggle like they did last year, Guillen promised a visit to chairman Jerry Reinsdorf would follow with talk of his four-year deal being ripped up. The White Sox chairman would have the option of reworking the deal to one year or at the very least, less years, so Guillen's contract is not holding the White Sox hostage if things aren't working.

And what was Williams' take on Guillen's comments to the media? Was it just another case of "Ozzie being Ozzie"?

"Let me just say this," said Williams, with a smile on his face. "I'm much more concerned what may or may not be in the buffet line over here at lunch than I am about those comments.

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"I don't know what to stay about that stuff. OK, it's another day where Ozzie made news. I don't have to react to every one of them, do I? I think I'm down to reacting to one out of every five or six. I'm not spending that much time on that."

In reality, Guillen is a master at deflecting attention from his team and placing it squarely on his capable shoulders. His retirement talk came in 2005 during a period when the White Sox had watched their 15-game lead in the American League Central slip to 1 1/2 games over Cleveland. Sunday's comments might just be a way of letting his team focus on baseball and getting off to a good start, with the ancillary pressure falling on Guillen by design.

Both Reinsdorf and Williams have not hidden the fact that Guillen is their man to lead the White Sox, backed up by his new deal beginning in 2009. While Williams doesn't foresee Guillen walking away from the job and didn't really directly break down the bulk of Guillen's recent statement, he did believe those thoughts came from a serious place.

"Generally, when Ozzie says it, he's serious," Williams said. "What do you want me to say? Good. Very rarely am I surprised by anything my friend does.

"It's a slow news day, isn't it?" added Williams before heading to the ballpark for Sunday's game.

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