Guillen receives contract extension

Guillen receives contract extension

CHICAGO -- Even when the White Sox literally gave away a one-run lead in the top of the ninth inning Monday, and the Angels had their seemingly unstoppable closer in Scot Shields warming up in the bullpen, a feeling hovered over U.S. Cellular Field that the South Siders would not and could not lose this game.

Not on Frank Thomas' return to the starting lineup for the first time since July 6 of last season. More importantly, not on the day when manager Ozzie Guillen had his contractual option picked up for 2006 and his contract extended by the White Sox for two more seasons.

After all, it's Guillen's leadership and attitude that has played a huge role in the White Sox's climb to the best record in baseball and first place in the American League Central. So, when Timo Perez dropped a two-out, two-run single in front of left fielder Garret Anderson in the bottom of the ninth, it was of very little surprise that Guillen's crew had pulled out another improbable victory.

Even the wealthier and job-secured manager could joke about his team's less-than-perfect collective effort to start their six-game homestand.

"If we continue to play like that, I don't know if I made the right deal or not," Guillen said with a laugh.

Reports of the new deal, which also includes an option for 2009, first broke early last week. Both Guillen and general manager Ken Williams denied any negotiations had taken place at the time, with a focus on the bigger picture dealing with the team, as opposed to Guillen's future.

Williams also stated that when he got down to negotiations with Guillen concerning an extension, he didn't expect the talks to last any longer than 15 or 20 minutes. The two had that discussion on the trip back from Texas on Sunday night, and it took about as long as a pilot needs to descend and land a plane to keep Guillen in the fold.

"Probably about 10 minutes," said Williams of the contractual talk. "He told me what he wanted. I gave him a little more than he wanted and we had a deal. It really was just that simple.

"What's fair is fair. It's a situation where he has done everything we have asked from the time he was hired. He has done exactly what he said he would do when we first sat down for the interview. So, this was a no-brainer.

"This is exactly the guy we think it's going to take," Williams added. "He has the exact attitude, the desire, the passion for the organization and the city. His players know that. I think he gets the most out of them."

One reporter asked Williams if Guillen had become the face of the organization, to which Williams replied that both of them wanted the players to be the ones at the forefront of the organization. But there's no denying Guillen is the new voice of the White Sox, a voice that is some times off-color, but always as entertaining as a Las Vegas standup comedian.

Guillen clearly has executed to near perfection the "smart ball" game plan put together in conjunction with his general manager and coaching staff. He also has a group of players who clearly enjoy playing for the man in charge, and celebrated his new contract, announced to the capacity crowd between the first and second innings of Monday's game.

"He's done an outstanding job getting our team ready for games," said Mark Buehrle, who picked up a second straight no-decision, despite shutting down the Angels over eight innings. "It's always entertaining, but that's why I think everybody likes him."

"This is exactly the guy we think it's going to take. He has the exact attitude, the desire, the passion for the organization and the city. His players know that. I think he gets the most out of them."
-- GM Ken Williams

"Congratulations to him," Thomas added. "He has a great attitude, a winning attitude, and he was rewarded for it. It's a good thing because he wants to be here the rest of his career, and hopefully that's what happens."

With Monday's victory, Guillen now has a 117-96 record at the helm of the White Sox. He was named the 37th manger of the team on Nov. 3, 2003, and is the second youngest manager behind Cleveland's Eric Wedge. He joins San Francisco's Felipe Alou as the only Latin Americans currently managing in the Majors.

From his opening press conference, Guillen has run this team in his own unique way and with very few apologies. Despite a plethora of key injuries in 2004, the South Siders finished 83-79. They are a safe bet to top that win total in 2005.

Of course, with more wins like Monday's, Guillen might grow old well before his time. And if there wasn't enough pressure on the native of Venezuela prior to Monday afternoon, he knows it increased with the new contract.

He also knows that he has a chance to bring long-term success to a franchise that he loves.

"To me, it's more responsibility," said Guillen, who will have the final say on a 2006 coaching staff, according to Williams. "To me, somebody had faith in me and somebody believed in me and my staff. When that happened you have to look at yourself in the mirror and say, 'Well, you can't let those guys down.'

"I will be the same guy. Nothing will change. I will be working harder now than in the past because this is the team I will manage for a few years as long as they want. That means I will do everyday the best I can to make my team a winner.

"To make this step is because Kenny, Jerry [Reinsdorf, club chairman]and the people in the White Sox organization believe in Ozzie, and I have to be ready," Guillen added. "I have to prepare myself better and make this organization get all the way to the top. If not, I'm going to be the guy who gets fired."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.