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updated: 9/27/2011 11:32 AM

Guillen says goodbye to the South Side

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  • Ozzie Guillen is out as White Sox manager, and he is reportedly headed to the Florida Marlins.

      Ozzie Guillen is out as White Sox manager, and he is reportedly headed to the Florida Marlins.
    Associated Press file photo

 
 

One day, Ozzie Guillen is going to have his familiar uniform No. 13 retired and displayed out on the fence at U.S. Cellular Field.

One day, Guillen is going to be posing in front of his statue on the outfield concourse.

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He will be laughing and smiling, cracking jokes as always.

But for now, Guillen is finished with the White Sox.

It was almost fitting that on a dreary, drizzly night on the South Side in front of a few thousand fans, Guillen managed his last game for the Sox.

After the White Sox held on to defeat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 at the Cell, Guillen was released from his 2012 contract, per his request.

The Sox' icon is expected to be traded to the Florida Marlins, possibly before the end of the week, with a player coming back in return.

Fulfilling the promise he made to himself about not crying, Guillen choked up from time to time but held it together.

"They just let me go," said Guillen, who always will be remembered for guiding the White Sox to the 2005 World Series championship. "They let me go and let me do what's best for me and my family. It was very, very emotional. I know they're not going to forget me. Even if they want to, they can't.

"They walk through the ballpark, my picture's going to be up there. I hope they don't take it down."

Guillen was not expected to be back in 2012, even though he is under contract for $2 million. Guillen wanted an extension on top of that, and he talked to chairman Jerry Reinsdorf several time about his status.

Guillen and Reinsdorf talked again Monday and the decision was made.

"This is a case of a man making a business decision for himself and his family," general manager Kenny Williams said. "And we respect it. We respected it enough to allow this to happen. Obviously we didn't agree with the request for an extension and, yes, we've had I can't tell you how much dialogue on the subject."

As for Guillen and Williams being unable to work together, both parties again denied any rift. But there were plenty of flare-ups the last two years that indicated otherwise.

Even though the Sox have been a huge bust this season, Guillen thought his overall body of work warranted an extension.

Reinsdorf did not.

"Obviously, I appreciate that he respected my decision," Guillen said. "And anybody in Chicago or anyone in baseball that blames Kenny or Jerry or front-office people, they're wrong.

"That's the decision I made, obviously for a lot of reasons. I will still live in Chicago. My home is in Chicago. The best thing about it, I leave here with my head up.

"Jerry gave me an opportunity to play in the big leagues and gave me an opportunity to manage in the big leagues. What else can I ask the guy? Give me the opportunity to be free when he didn't have to? I respect that. To me, Jerry means more to me and my family now than he did in the past."

Guillen, 47, took over as White Sox manager in 2004 and was 678-617. He made the postseason in 2005 and '08.

"We certainly cannot thank Ozzie enough for all he has done during his eight seasons as manager of the Chicago White Sox, highlighted by an unforgettable 2005 World Series championship," Reinsdorf said in a statement.

"I personally appreciate everything he has done for this organization, our fans and the city of Chicago. We shared the greatest moments together and wish him nothing but future success in baseball and in life."

Life begins anew for Guillen with the Marlins next season, but leaving the White Sox was not easy.

"I'm very happy because we brought a championship team to this ballclub and I was very proud I was on the team," Guillen said. "The White Sox won it, not because of Ozzie Guillen. The White Sox won because we (had) great players, a pretty good front office, and the reason I manage here for eight years is because the front office was behind me, the players played pretty good for me, at least played hard for me.

"I'm lucky enough to be managing the team I always wanted to be managing. No regret, no regret. Very disappointed this year, yes, a lot of disappointment."

While Guillen was emotional after managing his final game for the White Sox, there also was a sense of relief.

He will be missed, but baseball is full of "expiration dates."

Guillen told his players he was leaving before the game.

"My first thoughts are that everything has kind of run its course," captain Paul Konerko said.

"This probably needed to be done, on both sides of it. I'm happy for Ozzie. I think he's been burned out on this whole thing and probably likewise on the other side.

"That's how it goes. It doesn't always have to be that someone's right, someone's wrong, this person's right, this person's wrong.

"Sometimes in sports -- any business, but especially sports -- a coaching staff or a manager, head coach, whatever it might be, that kind of regime runs its course, and that's what we have here. All I can say on that is during that time, we got a world championship out of it. I look at the big picture."

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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