TUCSON, Ariz. -- There were no final farewells as the White Sox closed their Cactus League season Thursday and prepared to leave Tucson for a pair of weekend exhibition games in Oklahoma City and Memphis.
Amid swirling rumors and speculation about the White Sox future Spring Training home, manager Ozzie Guillen made it clear that he expected the team to return in 2009, dismissing the notion that Thursday's loss to the D-backs could have been the team's final game at Tucson Electric Park.
"I hope not," Guillen stressed. "Because when we play the last game here, I expect better stuff from me. I want to be on the field and blow people kisses and say goodbye, make sure I go to a nice restaurant and say goodbye to my friends here. I went to a couple nice restaurants in Tucson, and I told all the guys, I expect to be back next year."
The White Sox have a 15-year lease at TEP that expires at the end of 2012, and though the club is interested in joining the Dodgers at a new two-team facility in Glendale, Ariz., a suburb of Phoenix, next season, there remains significant obstacles standing in the way of escaping their lease, most notably, finding a team to replace them at the facility.
From Guillen's perspective, an appreciation for Tucson is not an issue.
"I love Tucson," Guillen said. "To be honest with you, the only thing I hate about Tucson is the ballpark. The Tucson Electric Park field is brutal. It's windy, it's cold, it's dusty. There's too much wind every day. It's hard for me to judge players when the wind is blowing out every day. It's hard to make a good decision.
"Besides that, I love Tucson," Guillen added. "I'm not going to move here, because it's too far away from Venezuela, I'll be honest with you. But I like it here. I have a great time here. All the restaurants are real quiet, nice people."
For now, for Guillen, it appears he'll save his send off for another year, trading the promise of blowing kisses for the uncertain excitement of another season watching his players wrestle the familiar winds of TEP.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.