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Terrerobytes: Ozzie Guillen in Chicago, but not in baseball

Plus: Bullpen coach likes reliever, hitter likes hitting coach, and Jesse Crain and Casper Wells aren't having fun

Jonathan Daniel

The Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan used his new roving Chicago baseball writer role to write an extended enterprise piece about Ozzie Guillen, who is around town, but not around either ballpark.

Nothing's really new with Guillen but the distance, but it makes for a good story. It seems to depict the emotions involved accurately without being too sympathetic toward Guillen. Guillen helps out by speaking candidly, but without angling for pity. Really, he represents himself as well as you could reasonably expect.

In looking back at his last two years as a manager, Sullivan lends an official voice to storylines that were easily to perceive from a distance, such as the media factions that emerged:

While not blaming the media, Guillen did suggest a newspaper war between the Tribune and Sun-Times may have added fuel to the fire. Guillen was considered a Sun-Times guy, and Williams said he didn't appreciate the "the way I was portrayed during that entire time," referring to articles that ran in the paper.

(While Sullivan is referring to Joe Cowley serving as Guillen's corner man, it should be said that David Haugh gave Williams a prominent voice in the Tribune.)

Guillen also gives his perspective of the Marlins' meddling ways:

After signing his four-year, $10 million deal, Guillen quickly discovered the grass wasn't any greener in Miami. When he first sat down for meetings with the Marlins, the team that acquired him to resuscitate a sleepy franchise that was about to come born again spenders, Guillen found himself in strange and foreign territory, surrounded by a bevy of front office executives with various titles.

Instead of making decisions with Williams and assistant GM Rick Hahn, he said everyone from the "president to the coffee-maker" had an opinion to share.

"I grew up when the manager was the boss, with the general manager," Guillen said. "Now you have people all over the place with 'credentials' talking about the game. You have to get used to that, or try to be the best you can with the people who get involved in the game. The transition has gone so fast, from old school to new school.

Of course, it seems like Guillen minimized the number of people he had to confer with in Chicago by ignoring or shunning them. Mark Gonzales said that the "number crunchers" avoided the dugout before the game because they no longer felt welcome there, and then there was the time that everybody but Guillen decided that Jake Peavy would be shut down in September 2011. It was only Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn because he wasn't even on good terms with Don Cooper.

That leads to a big blind spot in this story -- Guillen's casual disregard for preparation, which was implied in Chicago and openly documented in The New Yorker. When Sullivan gets input from Robin Ventura and others about Guillen's managerial prospects, they talk about his tendency to say what others don't, which is natural.

But to me, it seems like the next team to hire Guillen would want to make sure that he didn't treat practice as "eyewash" and/or dump most responsibilities on his coaching staff. I imagine it's a lot harder to put up with media controversies when you don't know what he's actually bringing to the table. He brought a championship to Chicago, but that doesn't carry over to other organizations.


Bobby Thigpen -- who knows Nate Jones from way back -- says that Jones could stand to pitch angry more often. jone

‘‘I’d like to see him [ticked] off more. ‘More bulldog. Mad at the world when he goes out there. I’d like to see him mad at everybody, have a grudge against every hitter, try to embarrass everybody he can. And he probably could with his stuff.’’

Daryl Van Schouwen refers to Jones as a "gentle giant," and Jones provides some evidence by using the phrase "hootin' and hollerin'."

After eight years of Greg Walker, it's difficult to get a sense of timing with Jeff Manto. If the Sox went through hitting coaches like other teams, it might be normal to suggest a change at the end of the second year, instead of seeming premature. Then again, Adam Dunn provides an argument that Manto has a positive effect:

"I don't think I've changed my approach very much," Dunn said. "I just think I'm getting pitched a little bit differently than I have. I'm able to get to some balls that for most of my career I wasn't able to get to and I think that's credit to Jeff, getting me all year long in a good hitting position.

"I think it's just having a really good routine and having a really good hitting coach that won't let me get away from what we're trying to do. Sometimes it's frustrating and sometimes I'll yell at him and he's really quick to yell right back and say, 'We're doing it.' So, it's good."

Jesse Crain still hasn't pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays, and it's possible that he never will. Joe Maddon says he'll have to make some progress in the next week or two to have a shot, and good news has been in short supply since Crain hit the disabled list in late June. Speaking of rough endings...

Casper Wells will make it through the entire 2013 season earning a major-league salary, but it hasn't been easy. Not just because he's played for five organizations and poorly at that, but because the Phillies just placed him on the disabled list with "vision problems" that have supposedly plagued him all year stemming from offseason LASIK surgery. It would certainly explain his performance, and now that the Phillies mention it, he did try a few different kinds of eyewear during his time with the Sox.

I pulled for Wells to pull out of his slump while he was with the Sox because he's from Schenectady, and that gave my worlds an opportunity to occasionally overlap. In the second link, my colleague at the paper, Jennifer Gish, talked to Wells' parents about this recent development, and you can feel for all the parties involved:

Last weekend, Casper Wells, the dad, was at the Travers when Casper Wells, the ballplayer, got a chance to take the field during the Phillies' 18-inning marathon with the Diamondbacks. His wife can get the games on her iPhone, but after they saw young Casper strike out, they put the phone away.

Not because they were disappointed in him. It was just too tough to watch the kid struggle.

"In the morning when I woke up, I saw they got beat in 18 innings. Normally, when he does well or gets a hit, someone will call our house to say something," the older Casper says. "I never got a call or nothing, and I said, 'Oh, Jesus, this can't be good.' And I thought with 18 innings he probably pitched. I looked at the box score, I almost died. That had to be the worst one-game performance by a baseball player ever. I said it kind of jokingly. It just breaks my heart because he's my son."