SAN FRANCISCO -- Aaron Rowand did something prior to Friday's Interleague opener between the White Sox and Giants that Ozzie Guillen said few of his former players have the guts to do.
"He came to my office. Not that many people have the guts to come to my office after they leave here," said Guillen with a laugh. "I love the man."
That feeling seems to be mutual in regard to Rowand and his feelings toward the team that brought him championship fame and now free-agent fortune. Rowand caught up with friends and former coaches during a visit to the White Sox clubhouse Friday, and then suited up for another night as one of the cornerstones in the Giants' rebuilding process. Rowand already faced the White Sox as part of the Giants during Spring Training and delivered a game-winning grand slam for the Phillies during an Interleague sweep of the South Siders in 2007. Yet Rowand said the thrill remains in facing the team that built its "Grinder Rules" campaign, in part, around his particular style of play. "It's always exciting to play against them," Rowand said. "I spent seven years there, eight years in the organization. I came up with these guys. It's always exciting to play against them, and not so much play against them but to see them all." During the past offseason, Rowand signed a five-year, $60 million deal with the Giants as their primary free-agent target. Rowand had expressed interest in rejoining the White Sox, but the length of the deal could not be agreed on from the outset between the two sides. Joe Crede, the White Sox third baseman incumbent, will be going through the same free-agent trials and tribulations during the offseason, with his current team potentially on the radar. Yet Rowand has no advice for his close friend concerning handling this process. "No, he knows what he's doing," said Rowand. "He's a great player. He's going to make a ton of money no matter where he is, whether it's in Chicago or somewhere else. He's one of the best third basemen in the league." While San Francisco's center fielder, hitting .333 entering Friday, no longer has his White Sox uniform, he still follows his former team through daily box scores. He also hasn't lost a strong commitment to his greatest Chicago passion, the Bears, going with "over 10" when asked Friday for a prediction on the Monsters of the Midway victory total in 2008. "I'm so proud of him and happy for him," Guillen said. "His career has come along real well. Everybody knows what he did for us, on the field and off the field. "He's one of the guys this organization and these players love. It's always nice to see him doing well."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.