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Notes: Sox figuring out 2007

Notes: Sox figuring out 2007

CHICAGO -- This year clearly has not gone to plan for the Chicago White Sox. After winning the World Series in 2005 and 90 games in 2006, this season's drop-off seemingly came from nowhere.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen says that the change does not come from his end. The Guillen that managed the Sox to the World Series in 2005 is the same Guillen that is calling the shots in 2007.

"I haven't changed from 2004 to right now," Guillen said. "I was smart in 2005 and now I'm just a dumb manager. In 2004, '05 and '06, I was great, now I've lost everything. I think my coaching staff and myself, we are happy with what we did. We worked hard enough every day. The only thing I wish we could do was win more games."

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But Guillen said even though he has not changed his style, it is part of his job to take responsibility for the team's struggles.

"I'm the boss of this ballclub," Guillen said. "I'm the one that takes the heat. I run this ballclub. That is why I always take the blame. I took the blame in 2004 and I'll take the blame in 2007. If we are winning because of Ozzie-ball, we are losing because of Ozzie-ball. I'm not going to blame my players."

Guillen dedicated a majority of his pregame sit-down with the media to discussing his general take on the 2007 campaign. The White Sox are eight games under .500 and 10 1/2 games behind Cleveland in the American League Central.

While taking responsibility for the failures of his ballclub, he did not completely let his players off the hook.

"We gave everyone an opportunity to have success and a lot of people failed," Guillen said. "I've never seen anyone struggle as a team like we did in the first half. I hope I never go through it again as long as I manage, because it was pretty hard to deal with.

"The players do it for you. I don't care who likes it. If you have the horses, you will win the Kentucky Derby. You are not going to win the Kentucky Derby with donkeys. If the players perform, you will be good. If the players don't perform, you will get fired."

But Guillen recognized that the manager taking the criticism for a tough year is just part of baseball.

"Do you know how many managers I got fired in my career?" Guillen joked. "Maybe four of five."

"People can say whatever they want," he added. "My head is up because I am happy to come to the ballpark every day. If it works, it works. This summer I've learn more than in the past. I'm a better manager than I have been. It is easy when you are managing and you have the same lineup and the same rotation and the same bullpen. That is an easy way to manage."

Danny up to bat: The White Sox are hoping that Danny Richar will become an everyday Major League infielder. The South Siders' management has so much faith in the rookie, they traded Tadahito Iguchi, one of the heroes of the 2005 World Series, to free up space for Richar.

Just 11 games into his big league career, Richar might be making general manager Ken Williams a little nervous. The 23-year old is hitting just .188 and has one hit in his last 13 at-bats.

"I've been trying to do a little too much," Richar said. "In Triple-A [Charlotte], I was very calm with my swing. I was relaxed. Here I've been trying to impress a little too much. The sooner I get confident hitting and get more at-bats at this level, the better it will be."

Richar hit .305 with 13 home runs in 98 minor league games for Charlotte this season. After going 2-for-3 in his first big league game on July 28, Richar has struggled to find his stroke.

"I'm not nervous," Richar said. "I'm not nervous at all. I'm just trying to do the job. Do something for the team and have some good at-bats."

Richar has provided some defensive stability in an infield prone to some shaky fielding. He split time between shortstop and second base at Charlotte, but has found a home at second with Iguchi's absence.

"I didn't expect to be called up that quickly," Richar said. "I guess I did my job [at Charlotte], at least that's what they think. They traded Iguchi to give me the opportunity, so I have to do my job."

Best in the west?: Seattle enters Sunday afternoon's game tied for the lead in the AL Wild Card. But are they the best team Guillen has seen this season?

Guillen would not make the tough call on who he thought was the best AL team. He's gotten a good look at the candidates in recent weeks. The Sox are coming off of series with Detroit, Cleveland, Seattle, Boston and New York.

"The American League is tough," Guillen said. "I can't point any fingers towards the one I like. The one whose pitching I like, I don't like their offense. I like Boston's pitching staff. I like Seattle's offense. I like Detroit's offense. It is all about pitching. The bullpen in Seattle is pretty good.

"In the end it is going to be about pitching. Every lineup in the American League is pretty consistent. Whoever pitches better is going to end up winning."

Floyd's future: The White Sox are going to hold off final judgement on Gavin Floyd's future in the rotation until Guillen has a chance to meet with Williams in Oakland this week.

Floyd will likely find himself on the outside looking in after being roughed up for seven runs in four innings on Saturday in a 7-6 loss to Seattle. Floyd is 1-2 with an 8.51 ERA after six appearances, four as a starter.

But whatever decision the Sox make, it will likely stick through the end of the season. Guillen hopes to avoid moving Floyd back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen over the final month and a half of the season.

"The thing is we want to see more out of him," Guillen said. The opportunities have been there, we gave him a couple of starts. Whatever decision we make, that is going to be the one we keep all year long. We'll see how it works."

A six-man rotation is still a possibility, but again, seems unlikely because of the other starters opposition to the idea.

"It is on the table," Guillen said. "How it is going to affect the other guys, that is what we worry about."

Down on the farm: Andrew Sisco dropped to 1-5 on the season, as Charlotte fell, 3-2, to Durham on Saturday. Dewon Day pitched an inning of scoreless relief for the Knights. ... Former first-round pick Kyle McCulloch got his first win of the season with Double-A Birmingham in a 6-4 win over Huntsville. ... Class A Winston-Salem was nearly no-hit in a 2-0 loss at Potomac. C.J. Lang broke up Justin Jones' bid for a perfect game with a one-out single in the ninth. Jones gave up another hit before being pulled from the game after 8 2/3 innings.

Up next: The White Sox will take a day off on Monday before heading for the West Coast to open a three-game set in Oakland on Tuesday. Jon Garland (8-7, 4.56 ERA) will start game one for the Sox, while Lenny DiNardo (6-6, 3.28) will go for the A's. First pitch is scheduled for 9:05 p.m. CT.

Alex Gyr is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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