But once he was asked about visiting with Guillen, the fireworks began.
"No. I don't want to see him," said the soft-spoken Ordonez of his manager last season.
That reference to Guillen only tipped off the brief, but pointed, commentary from Ordonez. Surprisingly, Ordonez expressed no problems with general manager Ken Williams, who seemed to be the center of the offseason firestorm when Ordonez switched representation to Scott Boras.
"We never clicked, even when we played together," Ordonez continued on his relationship with Guillen. "I don't consider him my friend. I have nothing to say. I don't want to see him. I don't want to talk to him. He's my enemy. Even if he talks to me and tries to apologize, I won't accept it."
The problem Ordonez has with Guillen, on the surface, appears to stem from the perception that Guillen stuck his nose into the on-going contractual negotiations with the White Sox in 2004. Ordonez said Thursday that those sort of situations are between the general manager, the owner and his agent, and that the manager simply should worry about his team.
But Guillen has a different recollection of that particular issue. He remembers being approached by Tom Reich, Ordonez's agent at the time, in terms of doing what he could to help bring home a multi-year deal for his client. Ordonez and Guillen also talked about the situation at a bar in Baltimore in early May, according to Guillen, before Ordonez injured his left knee during a collision with Willie Harris in Cleveland late in the game on May 19.
Guillen said that he had a similar talk with Freddy Garcia, and the big right-hander signed a three-year deal shortly thereafter last season.
At the point of the injury, Guillen advised Ordonez to think about the offer on the table from the White Sox. That deal was worth $60 million over five years, with more money deferred. Ordonez eventually signed a five-year, $75 million deal with Detroit.
Focusing on Guillen's involvement in the contractual issue was the manager's mellowest state during his 10-minute talk Thursday. When he was told that Ordonez considered him an enemy and wouldn't accept his apology, Guillen fired back in a manner primarily not suitable for a family audience.
"Apologize to who? I don't have to apologize to anybody," Guillen said. "He's the first one to name me. He said I was pushing him to play, and I was responsible. Don't make me feel like I was the bad guy in this.
"He's playing with fire. I'm not afraid of him. I have nothing to do with Magglio wearing the Detroit Tigers uniform.
"Every time he played for me, he played good," Guillen added. "But if he thinks I'm his enemy or I have something against him, that's up to him."
The two were teammates as players briefly at the end of the 1997 season, in Guillen's final season with the White Sox and when Ordonez was a September callup. Guillen mentioned how he stood up to protect Ordonez, who previously was not on the 40-man roster, and feels that stand might have strained his relationship with then general manager Ron Schueler and hastened his departure.
Guillen also credited Ordonez for playing hard for him and playing well for him, even after suffering the serious knee injury. But he made no excuses and pulled no punches about the two never becoming friends, as Guillen seemed to get more incensed as the conversation progressed.
"Magglio was never my friend because I don't know him," Guillen said of Ordonez. "If he thinks what I said hurt him, I don't (care). I didn't come here to make friends. I came here to win games.
"I've got a lot of friends. If Magglio doesn't want to be my friend, I'm not going to lose sleep at night.
"He better shut up and just play for the Detroit Tigers," an adamant Guillen added. "Why do I have to go over and apologize to him? Who is Magglio Ordonez? But he said I'm his enemy and he knows me. Tell him he knows me, and he can take it how he wants to take it."
After talking with the media, Guillen spoke briefly to Thomas at his clubhouse locker. As the media approached Thomas, the big man could only shake his head and smile. He clearly didn't want to get in the middle of this volatile situation, declining comment as the story was re-told to him.
The controversy quickly made its way around the White Sox clubhouse. Thomas did mention that he remembers a time when Ordonez and Guillen got along, and he thought having them both sit down together, face-to-face, could solve the residual hard feelings.
It doesn't sound as if either Guillen or Ordonez has any interest in that meeting happening in the near future.
"He might be jealous of me, I don't know why," Guillen said. "But saying I'm his enemy, he hates me, I could care less what he thinks. I don't care what he does with the rest of his life."