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Ozzie Guillen heads to Venezuela, hoping to help flood survivors

Big League Stew

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ORLANDO — Ozzie Guillen would rather roll up his pant legs and head home to flood-ravaged Venezuela than hang out with a bunch of baseball people at the winter meetings.

Can you blame him? There's no baseball games at the Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort. Just boring meetings, tedious phone calls and pesky reporters at every turn.

"Most people hate it here," Guillen said. "They just don't say so."

Besides, Venezuela could use Guillen's help right now. From Reuters:

Venezuelan security forces have started housing families displaced by floods in tourist hotel rooms following an order by President Hugo Chavez to make use of vacant accommodation, local media said on Monday.

Heavy rains have killed at least 32 people and forced more than 100,000 from their homes in recent days. Emergencies have been declared in various states, and the country's Caribbean coast has been particularly hard hit by mudslides.

"I'll go there to see what I can do," Guillen said during his session with the baseball media. "Hopefully I can help a few. I'm already helping people. They're in my house. I've got like 30 or 40 people in my house living, hopefully, for the next few days."

What's happening now reminds Guillen of the 1999 flooding, when up to 30,000 died. Many have lost their homes and possessions, Guillen says, and most of them don't have insurance.

"I've got a lot of people [who] asked me about what you should do?" Guillen said. "Well, I'll try to help. But I'm not the president, I'm not the governor, I'm not the mayor. You know what I mean? I don't have to deal with that. I can do whatever I can do. Hopefully what I do is good enough to help a few people. You can't help everybody."

Venezuela's problems diminish the importance of Guillen's personal bickering with general manager Ken Williams, or the contract status of free agent Paul Konerko(notes).

Though both parties have admitted their relationship was strained in 2010, Guillen said he and Williams recently had dinner and are working on mending fences. Guillen pledged to White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf that he would.

Via the Chicago Tribune:

"We were very clear about it," Guillen said. [...] "We talked like grown-up people. I promised Jerry and him I will do the best I can to make this thing work ... the way it used to be."

As for Konerko, the White Sox still seem to be the favorites to retain him. Though Konerko's signing isn't close to being official, Guillen already has been toying with potential lineups including him, recent signee Adam Dunn(notes) and Alex Rios(notes).

"I might hit Dunn third, PK four, and put Rios third. It depends," Guillen said. "I want to get Dunn more at-bats. I want him to hit in the first inning, so that's why I think third hitter."

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