White Sox agree to let Guillen out of contract

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CHICAGO (AP) - Ozzie Guillen’s eight years as manager of the Chicago White Sox were never dull. His pre-game briefings were great theater. Opinions flew, so did four-letter words, brazen answers, often raucous laughter and interesting yarns.

Guillen did OK on the field, too, leading the White Sox to the World Series championship in 2005, their first since 1917. And even though Chicago has returned to the playoffs just once since that remarkable run, Guillen’s managerial talents didn’t seem to have diminished.

Certainly not in his mind.

With the White Sox struggling through a disappointing season and Guillen signed only through next year after his option was picked up in January, he wanted a contract extension.

Owner Jerry Reinsdorf listened but declined to give Guillen the extra years and money he wanted. So Guillen asked to be released from his contract and the White Sox agreed to do so Monday night, ending a long relationship that began when Guillen spent 13 seasons as the team’s shortstop from 1985-1997.

“I told my wife I wouldn’t cry,” Guillen said _ and he didn’t during his final news conference.

He said he did get emotional when he gathered his players before Monday night’s game against Toronto _ the White Sox sent him out a winner, 4-3 _ and told them he was leaving.

“No regrets, no regrets,” Guillen said. “Very disappointed in this year, yes.”

Next stop? He’s leaving for a vacation to Spain on Friday. But his name is being linked to the Florida Marlins with Jack McKeon announcing his retirement. Guillen was the Marlins‘ third base coach under McKeon when they won the World Series in 2003.

“I like Ozzie,” McKeon said Monday. “I think he’s a very, very intelligent manager. He was a smart player. He’s a good man. I like him.”

If Guillen did become manager of the Marlins, it would cost Miami some sort of compensation.

The Marlins talked to Chicago last year about acquiring Guillen, but the deal never materialized. They could bring him in now to lead the club into a new ballpark next season.

Guillen said he had no idea where he might end up but he’s aware of the reports about the Marlins.

“It could be anybody. They sound like they are interested,” Guillen said. “They just let me go to talk to whoever I want, anyone I want. Right now, a lot of people are talking about Florida because as a team, a lot of rumors are out there.”

Guillen, who had a 678-617 record with the White Sox, will not be in uniform for the remaining two games this year. Bench coach Joey Cora will run the team.

Guillen has credentials. He’s the only manager in franchise history to lead the White Sox to more than one division or league title. Chicago also made the playoffs under Guillen in 2008.

He thought his body of work deserved more than being a lame duck manager next season. And he said his rocky relationship with general manager Ken Williams was really not the issue.

“It was my call and I appreciated the White Sox organization letting me do what I like to do and what is best,” he said.

“Maybe not the best, maybe it’s the worst. You don’t know what is out there. Maybe I’m dreaming. I might not appreciate what I got here. You don’t know. You have to close the page and move on. That’s life. Hopefully the next book treats me the way this book treated me.”

In the 2005 championship year, the White Sox nearly let a 15-game lead evaporate before rebounding in the final week of the regular season. Then they went 11-1 in the postseason, clinching all three of their series against the Red Sox, the Angels and the Astros on the road.

Now he’s gone. Guillen said the fans would never forget him, he’d still keep a home in Chicago and he and Reinsdorf would always be friends.

The White Sox clubhouse will never be the same, but first baseman Paul Konerko _ one of Guillen’s favorite players _ said it was time for a change.

“This probably needed to be done, on both sides of it,” Konerko said.

“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.”

After teaming with general manager Ken Williams to end the 88-year title drought, their relationship has become strained over the last two years.

“Was it time for a change? I don’t think so,” Williams said. “I guess things were accelerated. We had no intention of firing him. This was kind of acquiescing to some of his desires more than anything. It is what it is.

“This is a case of a man making a business decision for himself and his family. And we respected it, we respected it enough to allow this to happen. Obviously we didn’t agree to the request for an extension.”

Williams said the White Sox are ready to move on and find a new manager.

“I will say very briefly that because of the warnings, we’ve had ample time to dwindle a list down to a few select candidates. We think that we can act swiftly,” he said.

The White Sox (78-82) were built to win this year but middle-of-the-order players like Adam Dunn and Alex Rios slumped all season and bogged down the offense.

Chicago had early losing streaks of seven and five games and by May 1, Guillen’s club was 10 games out of first. The White Sox pulled within 3 1/2 games of the lead on Aug. 17 but that was as close as they would get the rest of the way.

Guillen was a managerial trend setter with a Twitter account and a website. And social media, like his opinions expressed in other forums, got him in trouble at times.

After he was ejected this season at Yankee Stadium by umpire Todd Tichenoran, the manager went on Twitter and called his ejection pathetic. That got him a two-game suspension and fine, and it was the first time baseball has penalized a player, coach or manager for using the social networking site during a game.

Social media played a role in creating the tension between Williams and Guillen in 2010. Guillen’s son, Oney, left the team’s scouting department after posting some comments on Twitter that were critical of the team’s front office.

Since Guillen took over in 2004, there has been a long list of Ozzie blowups and tirades and opinionated rants.

In 2006, Guillen was fined and ordered by Commissioner Bud Selig to undergo sensitivity training after he described then Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti with a derogatory term.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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