Guillen gets big ovation, thanks Konerko for ‘making me who I am’

SHARE Guillen gets big ovation, thanks Konerko for ‘making me who I am’

Ozzie Guillen talks to reporters before the Paul Konerko jersey retirement ceremony Saturday at U.S. Cellular Field.

There’s room between Paul Konerko’s No. 14 and Luis Aparicio’s 11 on the facade behind home plate for a No. 13. Just in case the White Sox want to retire Ozzie Guillen’s number some day.

A Gold Glove shortstop, three-time All-Star and among the all-time White Sox leaders in games played, hits and at-bats,Guillen managed the 2005 Sox to a World Series championship, so he would seem to have the criteria. Konerko’s number was retired by the Sox on Saturday, so the debate could wait for another day.

“We’ll see. I mean, I hope that happens one day, but I’m [not] into that,” said Guillen, who was in the row of white chairs that seated manager Robin Ventura, general manager Rick Hahn, vice president Ken Williams, chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and former Sox and special assistant to the GM Jim Thome during the Konerko ceremony. “Today is about PK and I’m going to celebrate No. 14. No. 13, if that ever comes, I hope I’m still alive.’’

From left: Ozzie Guillen, Robin Ventura, Rick Hahn, Ken Williams, Jerry Reinsdorf, Jim Thome. AP

Guillen, whose relationship with the Sox has been on the mend since he left the team to manage the Marlins at the end of the 2011 season, spoke to reporters on the field before the ceremony.

“I’m so happy and so proud to be part of this because I know how big this thing is for him, for his teammates, his coaching, for the owner, for Kenny,” Guillen said.

Guillen remains popular with the fans, if the reception he received from the sellout crowd was any indication. Sitting on the end next to Ventura and the last of the group to be recognized by master of ceremonies Ken Harrelson, Guillen received a louder ovation than Thome, Reinsdorf, Williams, Hahn and Ventura.

“He’s going to be loved here,” Konerko said. “This is professional sports. The bottom line is the man won a World Series as a manager.’’

Guillen, who took over as manager in 2004, said that wouldn’t have happened without Konerko. He was glad to be a visible part of the Konerko event.

“Well, it means a lot,” Guillen said. “I think one to be here, the reason I am who I am is because of No. 14. That guy he was outstanding, he makes everybody around play better. He make everybody around be better. … this is a special day, not just for him but for me and my family also.

“This guy, he make our life very happy. He make our life very comfortable. He make me look good.”

Guillen took little credit for Konerko’s career.

“I write his name in the lineup everyday,” he said. “He was a tough son of a gun.’’

Konerko said he will always be “an Ozzie guy.”

“Ozzie was great to me,’’ Konerko said Saturday. “He was totally different to players on the inside than he was on the outside, constantly always asking me what you needed, taking care of you as far as injuries. A very compassionate man, a great family guy not only with his own family but your family. If anything was wrong he said ‘go take care of that. Baseball is secondary.’ So players respect that, very much a player’s manager.

“He’s going to get back in the game whether it’s here or somewhere else. The guy is a baseball man.

“I’m an Ozzie guy. I’ll stick up for Ozzie through and through. The guy took care of me [and] we won together.’’

“I know a lot of things went down the wrong way [with the Sox and Marlins], someof it was his fault, whatever, but also a lot of people are sensitive out there. A lot of situations where ‘it’s just Ozzie,’ and I stick up for Ozzie. He was good for me and I’ll always stick by his side.”

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