SAN DIEGO — Jerry Reinsforf doesn’t want to stand in Ken Williams’ way of career advancement. He just didn’t feel the timing was right, Williams said Tuesday.
A day after word got out that Williams had been considered by the Blue Jays to become their next president and CEO but was not granted by the Sox chairman an opportunity to discuss the opportunity with the Jays, Williams held court at baseball’s Winter Meetings to explain.
“I talked to Jerry, he just felt it was not the right time,’’ Williams said. “He did tell me he did not deny permission. But he did not grant it at this particular time, either, because we have White Sox work to do. I completely understand that and support that.’’
Williams, the Sox executive vice president who was bumped up to allow his long-time assistant, Rick Hahn, to take the GM’s chair in 2012, spoke with Hahn about the story that broke Sunday.
“I like my role,’’ Williams said. “I still oversee every aspect of the baseball operations and take pride in that. Rick and I spoke this morning about things. We work well together and he’s the front guy. I don’t particularly care to do a whole lot of this talking stuff anymore.
“I like what I’m doing. Are there other challenges in the game that I certainly am interested in? Yeah. I think as one of the things that is lost in this is that there hasn’t been an African American CEO in Major League Baseball. So, why would I not at least listen even if I am happy with my job and my family situation and everything else and love Chicago. It’s part of my responsibility in being in this game and the position I hold to at least flush out the possibilities.’’
Reinsdorf, who stood nearby where Williams held court shortly after the Hall of Fame announcement, issued a statement through a Sox spokesman: “This is not the right time for the White Sox to even consider granting permission like this as our focus is on putting our team together for 2015.”
Asked if he considered resigning, as was reported, Williams said only in evaluating every possible angle to what he should do, adding, “I like where I am.”
Williams said his relationship with Reinsdorf has not changed.
“There was a misunderstanding whether permission was granted, denied, delayed or whatever,’’ he said. “He quickly explained that to me and I completely understand his position.”
The Jays, who are reportedly pursuing Orioles GM Dan Duquette for the position, are past Williams as a candidate.
“Yeah, I would think they’ve moved on,’’ Williams said. “
The opportunity to be the first African-American CEO and the significance of that isn’t lost on Williams, who was the first black general manager in Chicago sports history.
“There’s nothing more that I would like than win another World Series in Chicago,’’ he said.
“An opportunity like this hopefully will come down the line, may come here, who knows, that would be the best of all worlds if that came right here in Chicago but I’m not going to lobby for it.’’