Guillen's comments hurt injured Thomas

AL notebook

Baseball Week

April 24, 2005|By DAN CONNOLLY | DAN CONNOLLY,SUN STAFF

Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas still hasn't recovered from his fractured ankle, yet what was really hurting him last week was his pride.

Thomas returned to Chicago to continue his rehabilitation, something White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen applauded. Guillen then expounded, and his words didn't come out complimentary.

"Frank was a big part of the bad attitude," said Guillen, who played with Thomas from 1990 to 1997. "Now he can see the guys, how we handle stuff, why we're not whining every day, why we're hitting today after a day game. Everybody is happy, and I want Frank to be part of it."

Guillen also named other star players with previous poor attitudes, such as Paul Konerko and Mark Buehrle. But he centered on Thomas, saying that the star isn't guaranteed a lineup spot until he's 100 percent healthy.

"I don't want to be a bad man, but we're trying to do something here," Guillen said. "I'm not going to rehab you when we're trying to win."

Thomas, who is more than a month away from returning, said he didn't appreciate Guillen's comments, especially given the team's fast start.

"Bringing my name up in the whole conversation was wrong," Thomas said. "I'm not playing and this team is doing great. Why bring me up right now? It's special what's happening with this team right now. These guys are playing well together. Great chemistry and a will-to-win attitude, that's what I've always wanted."

Guillen later apologized, not so much for what he said but because he believed the Chicago media targeted Thomas when Guillen also mentioned others.

"I was not picking on Frank," Guillen said. "I don't have the right to pick on one of the best players ever to wear the White Sox uniform."

This likely will be Thomas' last of 16 years with the White Sox. He holds a $10 million player option for 2006, but the club can buy him out for $3.5 million.

Bad-luck Saarloos?

With Oakland starter Dan Haren heading to the clubhouse with a six-run lead after pitching six strong innings last week, Athletics pitcher Kirk Saarloos congratulated Haren on his first American League win.

Thirty minutes later, the Texas Rangers had the winning run at the plate before the A's eked it out. Saarloos joked that he was so afraid he had jinxed Haren that he was "puking in the corner of the dugout."

Haren said later: "If they had come back there, I was going to punch [Saarloos] in the mouth."

Quick hits

Oakland's Eric Chavez was hitless in his first 15 at-bats with runners in scoring position ... Angels starter Kelvim Escobar hit 95 mph on the radar gun in a rehab game and is expected to make his season debut today. ... Toronto's Reed Johnson set a club record and tied a major league mark by being hit with a pitch in three consecutive at-bats. Twice the bases were loaded.

Compiled from interviews, wire services and reports from other newspapers.

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