Is this a kinder, gentler Ozzie Guillen?

Ozzie Guillen’s White Sox just left Texas, where he saw this players get plunked four times over the final two games.  Jermaine Dye and Josh Fields took high-and-tight fastballs to the hands, which will cause Fields to miss one game, and Dye to sit out at least two.
White Sox pitching did not hit one Texas batter during the three-game series.
They now head to Kansas City, where Carlos Quentin nearly charged the mound after getting hit once, and breezed with two other near-beanballs.
The Sox did not retaliate then, either.
Overall, Sox hitters have taken 14 pitches for the team.  Sox pitchers have only hit three.  Even if you knock a few off Quentin’s total of six to give him a more normal number, that’s still a hell of a disparity.
Yet after Matt Harrison’s fastball caused Fields’ hand and wrist to immediately swell, Guillen couldn’t find a reason to fire back:

“I’m not a headhunter, and I don’t think they try to hit anybody,”

Guillen said. “They honestly don’t, because if they will, I will let
them know right away.”They try to pitch in, and unfortunately they hit us, but you can’t
control that. You get upset and you get mad because your players are
getting hurt. But in the meanwhile, that’s part of the game. They don’t
try to hit anyone. They try to pitch in, and we can’t do nothing about
it.”

A lot of people would disagree with Guillen’s self-assessment, mainly because of two incidents:
No. 1:  The Sean Tracey debacle.  We know the story — Vicente Padilla hits A.J. Pierzynski twice, umpire issues warning without Sox pitchers hitting a batter, Guillen sends rookie to do the job, rookie fails, Guillen chews him out, rookie cries, rookie is demoted the next day.
(Tracey was actually replaced because he could find the strike zone as well as he could find a rib cage, and the Sox had acquired David Riske following the game, but the timing adds to the legend.)
No. 2:  Guillen admits what managers don’t.  You may remember the quote:

“You think I’m going to bring somebody in to hit somebody and they’re going to throw a fastball 82 (mph) at the hands?” Guillen said. “I’m going to bring in my best guy and make sure he gets it done. That’s Major League Baseball. That’s baseball. That’s the baseball I grew up with. Not the (expletive) they play right now.”

That’s a particularly funny one now, because when it comes to hitting batters, the Sox are playing that so-called (expletive) right now.
Sunday night is a good example.  During a game in which the Sox already had to start four replacement-level players partially due to injury, Guillen lost another real ballplayer when Harrison nailed Fields.  Sure, Fields stayed in the game, but he was a nonfactor.  He’ll also be sitting tonight, so one day after Scott Podsednik made his first start in right since his Milwaukee days and Brent Lillibridge made his major-league debut in center, Nix will have to do the same at the hot corner.
Furthermore, the Rangers are a team that like to pitch inside to the Sox — and you can’t pin it on Padilla, who didn’t pitch.
And then you can help the offense out.  Sox hitters have been struggling for a couple weeks now, as previously noted.  A fastball to the hip — or behind the hitter, if you don’t want a baserunner — would have probably triggered a warning and forced Harrison to be a lot more careful about pitching inside. Maybe this team can hit if half the plate is taken away.
But Guillen didn’t do it.  He lost two important players in one series, and his hitters couldn’t really hit any of the Texas starters, but he refrained nevertheless.
This course of inaction might be surprising to those who don’t follow the Sox, but for all of Guillen’s incendiary moments, he’s managed a team that either largely stays out of beanball wars, or doesn’t get how they work.
Here are the HBP-related incidents I’ve found since the Tracey incident.  I honestly can’t remember the last time the Sox prompted the other team to retaliate, and only once have the Sox actually carried any sort of plan through:
Aug. 3, 2008:  Tim Timmons ejects D.J. Carrasco and Ozzie Guillen after Miguel Olivo kinda-sorta charges the mound following a third high-and-tight pitch.  The bases were loaded, and no warnings had been issued, and the only blow was Carrasco lightly slapping Olivo on the neck after he stopped short of the mound.  It is later ruled that Carrasco shouldn’t have been thrown out.
July 20, 2008:  An umpire issues a warning to both the White Sox and Royals after D.J. Carrasco throws at Billy Butler after Dye is nailed in the knee cap by a Horacio Ramirez slider, his second HBP of the series.  Carrasco missed.
Aug. 1, 2007:  Without prior warning, Charlie Haeger is thrown out of the game by Tom Hallion for hitting Robinson Cano, immediately following the fifth Yankee homer on the evening.  Problem was, 1) there were no prior warnings, and 2) Haeger threw a 68 m.p.h. knuckleball that doinked Cano gently in the hip.  Nearly everybody in the cheaper Yankee Stadium, from Guillen to the crowd to the YES announcers, were baffled by that one.
Two more fun facts:  That led to Guillen memorably calling himself a “baseball bitch,” and it’s also the last pitch Haeger ever threw in a White Sox uniform.)
June 20, 2006:  Warnings are issued after the Cardinals’ Sidney Ponson hits two consecutive White Sox hitters in the midst of a White Sox blowout that would end by the score of 20-6.  David Riske enters the game, hits Chris Duncan on the hip, and he and Guillen are promptly ejected.  Later, Duncan’s dad whines about it.
Maybe Guillen was a different in 2006, because since then, the raw totals jive with the incident reports suggesting that Guillen is far from a headhunter.  Since 2007:

I wouldn’t rule it out of the question that Guillen is well aware of his reputation and doesn’t want to actually deserve it.  And nine out of 10 times, I don’t think it’s smart to retaliate.  It prevents your own pitchers from throwing inside effectively, and when it comes to the Sox, it turns Hawk Harrelson into a bird of prey.
But it’s gotten to the point that three of his starters have been knocked out of games by HBPs this season (Quentin also took one to the hand, and considering he doesn’t wear protective padding, more missed time is just another pitch away).  Shouldn’t Guillen want to draw attention to what the other teams are doing to his lineup — even if he has to draw some unsavory attention to himself in the process?  That’s never seemed to bother him before, so it’s a little confusing that he’d want to start now.
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Coincidentally, as I was working on this, Knox left a comment that addresses a bunch of other issues pertaining to Guillen’s softer side.  I’ll just C&P the whole thing, as it’s worthy of discussion:
So I know its easy to be negative, but Im gonna hammer on someone I usually support 100 percent and that guy is gonna be Ozzie Guillen and his lack of presense on this team so far.

Ozzie always had the ra ra, light the fire mentality as a player and certainly as a young coach, but since the sox have been a veterin team the last few years I think he has lost a lot of that, which is poor timing since the sox have gone young this year in some key spots and some of the young guys are starting to form VERY BAD and ANNOYING habits.Lets take last nights game as a way to look at some unacceptable lazy ass plays out on the field.
1. Josh Fields wasnt within 20 feet of first base on a tough 3-6-1 DP, how is that possible unless you arent running hard? This just days after he hit a grounder off a pitcher and dogged it out of the box leading to a bang bang out at first and costing the sox a run as they had a man on 3rd that would have scored.
2. Lillbridge, a player I see as having absolute ZERO value, dogs it to a routine single hit to center, so that when he makes a small bobble on the ball Andrus who didnt stop coming around first (as if he must have known lillbridge doesnt hustle in to balls, nice scouting) can fly into 2nd base. Its one thing to K up all the time, play bad defense, and be out of position a lot, now we are adding lack of hustle out of a young speed guy??? WTF
3. Lillbridge/Baines/Cox, well the error wasnt bad enough lets talk about baserunning. An obvious ball that is going to be cut off you take to wide of a turn and have Kinsler sneak behind you and luckily Davis decided not to throw you out at first. Now its a 5 run game and baines should be in your ear chewing you out about not knowing the situation, but he is a horseshit coach and I understand him not wanting to tell you about the 2nd basemen sneaking in on you or that your run means nothing, BUT INCREDIBLY you let the exact same damn thing happen again!!!! This time you do get thrown out and thank goodness the ump missed the call. Tagging up in what is now a 4 run game from first base when you know that the throw from right isnt going through and letting kinsler get behind you again is insanely stupid. Do I need to bring up that Cox who had another horrible no send the other day is in charge of this terrible base running too…
4. Betemit, every time I try and just take this guy with a grain of salt and talk myself into the fact he is just an ok bat off the bench and he can occasionally give Fields and Konerko time off he goes out and plays like horse dung. Booting a simple grounder off the bat of Davis because he one hand stabs at the ball rather then squaring up the body and using two hands, then not giving a shit and failing to stretch on a ball that was insanely catchable after Nix makes a hell of a play. Absolutely unacceptable, if you cant even field 1st base what the heck is your value to this club?
5. Pitchers, its getting embaressing how easy it is to steal bases on us. Danks is a freaking lefty he lets guys steal on him who go on his first move, unacceptable. And then 2nd/SS the jockeying of runners on 2nd is pitiful how many insane jumps are guys getting off 2nd as they easily steal third base, thats just laziness.
6. Walker, I cant stand this offense, yes we are hampered by injuries and such but come on some of the trash pitchers that are shutting us down is really getting annoying.
Ozzie and Kenny wanted this young team, but now its time for Ozzie and his average at best staff to crack the whip a bit and start teaching the damn game. 1 Hustle, 2 Know situations, 3 Preparation, its been ugly lately and I personally think we are lucky to be 12-12 and in a bad division.

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My prediction for today’s lineup:

1. Getz, 2B. 2. Nix, 3B. 3. Quentin, LF. 4. Thome, DH. 5. Konerko, 1B. 6. Pierzynski, C. 7. Podsednik, RF. 8. Ramirez, SS. 9. Lillibridge, CF.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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