CHICAGO (AP)—Basically, Ozzie Guillen wants his players to be like him. Have fun every time you pull on the uniform and play every game like it might be your last.
The White Sox did just that Tuesday in Guillen’s Chicago homecoming as manager when they beat the Kansas City Royals 12-5.
“I think with Ozzie from day one, it’s been great. It’s been a party,” said Paul Konerko, who hit a go-ahead, three-run homer.
“It’s been fun and we’ve also been getting after it, too. He played for so long and has everybody’s respect.”
Guillen got a rousing ovation before the game, taking his cap off at home plate and waving to the crowd. The former shortstop spent 13 of his 16 major league seasons with the White Sox before he left after the 1997 season. His highlights played on the scoreboard before the game.
He was touched and surprised by the pre-game appearance of fellow Venezuelan Chico Carrasquel and ex-teammate Carlton Fisk and greatly saddened by a picture on the scoreboard of another former teammate, Ivan Calderon, who was shot and killed last December.
Then he was bolstered by his team’s performance.
“Enjoy every day and moment because you never know when it will end,” Guillen said. “In the past, I don’t think this team had fun playing the game. I watched a couple games and it was all business.
“I want my team to play good, be aggressive and have fun. How many people want to play this game getting paid the way we are getting paid?”
“Early on in the spring I had some bad at-bats. Ozzie just laughed and he just said, `You’re terrible, get over it,”’ Konerko said. “He helped me a lot.”
Konerko’s homer helped overcome a shaky performance from Esteban Loaiza (2-0), who gave up four homers on a blustery day with the wind blowing out at 22 mph and a game-time temperature of 43.
“Today was one of the games where you always say to yourself, `What is going on?”’ Loaiza said.
Loaiza, who won 21 games a year ago and was the Cy Young Award runnerup, was staked to a 3-0 lead in the second when Lee doubled, Konerko singled, Joe Crede hit a run-scoring single and Miguel Olivo a two-run double off May.
“I’m not surprised. Our club, we can swing the bats,” Royals manager Tony Pena said. “Obviously we didn’t see Loaiza with his best stuff today.”
Aaron Guiel hit his third homer of the season for Kansas City to make it 4-3 in the fourth before Juan Uribe got his first hit with the White Sox, a solo homer to center leading off the bottom of the fifth.
“They are a good hitting team, there is no doubt about that. It’s not easy when you have to go against them back-to-back, especially this early on,” said May, who also lost to the White Sox last week.
Loaiza allowed seven hits, two walks and five earned runs in six innings and left after Tony Graffanino homered in the seventh.
It was the first game at U.S. Cellular Field since a $28 million renovation project in which eight rows were lopped off the top of the steeply inclined upper deck that is now covered by a new roof.
“It makes it look a little more like the old park, a little classier. But nothing else has changed,” fan Larry Ortman said as he bundled up against thecold from the upper reaches of the stadium.
Throwing out the first pitches were Guillen, Carrasquel and Luis Aparicio, all former All-Star shortstops who hail from Venezuela and played for the White Sox. Magglio Ordonez, also from Venezuela, caught one of the pitches and Fisk, who got one of the loudest ovations of the day, caught one of the others. … Sweeney now has 21 career homers against the White Sox. … Loaiza allowed just 17 homers in 226 innings last season. He’s already given up five in his first two starts covering 12 innings. … Royals starters still have not won a game this season. … Pena said Kevin Appier could be close to rejoining the team after a strong rehab outing at Wichita. Appier is on the disabled list with a right elbow tendon injury. … Announced attendance Monday was 37,706 and because of comp tickets was deemed a sellout in the park that now has acapacity of 40,615.