In the list of colorful players and managers in Major League Baseball over the last 30+ years, certainly Ozzie Guillén would be on it. The fiery and passionate player who spent 15 years as a player between the Chicago White Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves, and Tampa Bay Devil Rays moved straight into coaching (Montreal Expos 2001-02, Florida Marlins in 2003) and then to managing the White Sox from 2004-11 until exiting the Miami Marlins in 2012.
He posted a .513 winning percentage as a manager, was part of the 2003 Marlins World Series coaching staff, and manager of the 2005 World Series Champion White Sox. But for all that, Guillén had controversy follow him that was largely his undoing. Whether it was using a homosexual slur to describe Chicago sports columnist Jay Mariotti, speaking out against Arizona’s anti-immigration law, or being suspended five games by the Marlins for making pro-Fidel Castro comments, controversy seemed to follow him everywhere.
But talk to Ozzie Guillén now, and he sounds like a changed man. He still has a passion for the game of baseball, but there’s a maturity in his voice. Being part of television broadcasting, and the birth of his granddaughter, Guillén is ready to take the next step.
“I would like to go back into the game and be a manager,” he tells me. And while he said that if the situation was right, he’d go to the minors to manage, it’s clear he’s focused on managing in the Majors. “Even though I’ve never managed in the Minors, if I have to, I would use it as an opportunity to continue to learn the game better,” Guillén says.
If there would be concerns about Guillén being out of the game for six years, and not have his pulse on the game, his current TV gig has kept him abreast of the game.