Could Ozzie Guillen become the Billy Martin of the 21st century by returning as the Chicago White Sox manager one day? The outspoken former manager isn't ruling it out.
Guillen, in Minneapolis to do All-Star work for ESPN Deportes, didn't reject the idea of a South Side homecoming when the idea was broached by Chicago beat writers on Tuesday.
‘‘I wish,’’ Guillen told Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. ‘‘But if I say yes, then I don’t respect [current manager] Robin Ventura. But that’s not where I’m coming from. When Robin gets tired of managing or he’s had enough, I would like to be back. But it’s up to them. If I wear a uniform and it’s the White Sox, that will be special.’’
Ventura's presence is no small obstacle as he signed a "multiyear extension" before this season and receives the same loyalty from team owner Jerry Reinsdorf as many former White Sox players do. Ventura's contract is believed to run through 2016 so Guillen would have some considerable waiting to do.
Still, it's an interesting story because it speaks to the thawing relationship between Guillen and the White Sox. Guillen bolted to Miami after the 2011 season, attracted by Jeffrey Loria's money and long bothered by a combative relationship with then-White Sox GM Kenny Williams. Guillen managed the White Sox for eight seasons, breaking the franchise's 88-year title drought in 2005.
Guillen had said he wouldn't be a part of any upcoming 10-year anniversary parties for that World Series team, but he told reporters on Tuesday that had changed. Guillen, who still maintains a home in Chicago, attended a White Sox game at U.S. Cellular Field last month. Reinsdorf, meanwhile, attended the wedding of Guillen's son, Ozzie Jr.
‘‘I don’t have any problems with the Sox," Guillen told the Sun-Times. "During the summer, I will be a part of any activity they need. What’s the big deal? I love Sox fans. I respect the Sox front-office people. If I don’t show up, it’s too easy for people to say, ‘You see, it’s not us, it’s him.’ I don’t want that. The 10-year anniversary is for the fans.’’
Guillen was fired by the Miami Marlins only one year into his four-year deal so he's still collecting on the $7.5 million he was owed by Loria. At age 50, however, it appears that Guillen is starting to think about what his next act entails once the checks from South Florida stop coming.
Whether it's through being a team ambassador or a broadcaster or, yes, even a manager, it appears that Guillen believes his best play will be a homecoming with the White Sox. It should make for some pretty interesting theater.
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