Guillen disputes White Sox better off without him

Ozzie Guillen won’t argue that it was time for a change. Just

don’t say his former team is better off without him.

The outspoken Guillen emphatically dismissed that idea before

the Miami Marlins faced the Cubs on Tuesday, his first game

managing in Chicago since he split with the White Sox at the end of

last season.

Guillen acknowledged ”everybody is healthier” because of the

change.

One thing, though.

Don’t tell him the White Sox lead the AL Central and are defying

most expectations because he left town and took the circus with

him. That, he insisted, is not right.

And, he said, just look at his record.

The White Sox were 678-617 during his eight seasons and captured

their first World Series championship since 1917 when the 2005 team

won it all. Clearly, they did things right during that time, even

if his tenure ended on an ugly note.

His relationship with Ken Williams disintegrated, and chairman

Jerry Reinsdorf stuck with his general manager. It might have been

time to go for Guillen, but he resents this notion.

”Don’t say they’re winning because I’m not there,” Guillen

said. ”That’s not fair. That’s not fair. They have the same guy

(pitching coach Don Cooper) commanding the pitching as last year.

They talk about (former hitting coach) Greg Walker, well, I think

the Atlanta Braves are doing pretty good. I believe it’s not fair

when you talk about coaches moving.”

As for himself?

”I am the true White Sox,” Guillen said. ”Put it this way, 21

years with the same organization. Nobody can say (stuff) about me

in the White Sox organization. Nobody. I am the true White Sox. I

spent more years with the White Sox than anybody.”

Now, he’s trying to get the Marlins turned around. They came

into the season with high expectations after making some big moves

in the offseason but are fourth in the NL East at 44-46 after

winning 9-5 on Tuesday.

It hasn’t been a smooth ride for Guillen.

He found himself in the center of a major public-relations storm

after he was quoted by Time magazine as saying he loves Fidel

Castro and respects the retired Cuban leader for staying in power

so long. That didn’t exactly go over well in a region with such a

huge Cuban population, and the result was a five-game suspension

along with an apology from the manager.

He also acknowledged early this season that he drinks to excess

after road games and has done so for years, and he found himself at

odds with Washington’s Bryce Harper over the weekend.

Guillen informed Nationals third base coach Bo Porter rather

than an umpire that Harper’s bat might have exceeded the rules

regarding pine tar. The next time he stepped to the plate, Harper

pointed a bat in Guillen’s direction and the two had words.

The Marlins knew there would be flare-ups when they brought in

Guillen. After all, he was sent to sensitivity training with the

White Sox when he used a gay slur to describe a Chicago

columnist.

The controversies at times overshadowed his ability as a

manager, but Miami believed he was the man to lead them as they

opened tried to make a big leap into contention.

They were aiming high with a new ballpark opening, and backed it

up with a huge financial commitment.

They swung deals totaling $191 million to acquire NL batting

champion Jose Reyes, All-Star left-hander Mark Buehrle and All-Star

closer Heath Bell.

Besides Guillen and Buehrle, the former White Sox ace, the

Marlins kept the Chicago pipeline going with the trade that brought

in the troubled former Cubs’ All-Star pitcher Carlos Zambrano.

”(Guillen’s) the same guy,” said Buehrle, who starts Thursday.

”He hasn’t changed.”

He does, however, see a big change in Zambrano, who told Cubs

clubhouse personnel that he was retiring as he left the stadium

after being ejected from a rough start at Atlanta last August.

The Cubs placed him on the disqualified list, the latest in a

series of incidents over the years that included confrontations

with Michael Barrett and Derrek Lee.

Buehrle said Zambrano has been ”one of the best teammates I’ve

ever played with.” Zambrano apologized for his issues and said he

has no immediate plans to leave the game.

He said he has good memories of his time in Chicago and still

owns a home there. He isn’t scheduled to start in this series and

has no desire to take to the mound at Wrigley Field this year.

Zambrano said he also enjoys playing for his friend and fellow

Venezuelan Guillen.

”He’s straight, which is good,” he said. ”He says things to

you, in front of you. … Ozzie’s pretty straight. That’s the kind

of people that I really like.”

If Guillen has any pent up frustration with the White Sox, he

wasn’t revealing much.

He said he’s turned the page. He called manager Robin Ventura

”the right guy for the job” and said he’s glad to see Adam Dunn

and Alex Rios rebounding from dismal seasons.

Just don’t tell him the White Sox are winning because he’s no

longer on the bench.

”I thought I was doing wonders with them,” Guillen said.

”Maybe some people don’t like the way I do my stuff. Maybe some

people don’t like the way I manage it. But you can’t compare Robin

to me. We’re two different people. Robin is a gentleman. Robin is a

very nice guy.”