Can you picture Joe Torre going to the Boston Red Sox' clubhouse before a playoff game and hugging various Red Sox players? Certainly not, yet Chicago White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen makes a regular habit of dropping by the visitors' clubhouse at U.S. Cellular Field, as he did prior to Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.
Guillen has several friends on the Los Angeles Angels, including slugger Vladimir Guerrero, whom Guillen mentored as a coach for the Montreal Expos in 2001.
"It's not because I don't want to win," Guillen said of his pregame hugs with the opposition. "It's just how I am. They were my friends before I got this job. Now that I have this title, it's not going to change me."
Guillen quickly added this about Guerrero: "If there was a situation where we had to hit [an Angels batter], believe me, I'd pick Vlad first."
Guillen believes Guerrero, 30, was an even better player in his Montreal days than he is now -- and Guerrero is the reigning AL most valuable player. Asked whether the free-swinging Guerrero has the best plate coverage of anyone he has ever seen, Guillen thought for a moment.
"Maybe Roberto Clemente" was better, Guillen said. "Maybe."
Most AL teams designate one player as their primary designated hitter. Not the Angels. In Game 1 the role was filled by Guerrero; Wednesday night it was catcher Bengie Molina.
Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said he has used the role as a way to rest players, as in the case of Molina. Scioscia wants his bat in the lineup, but Molina needs a break from catching.
"We've had to rotate guys through [the DH spot]," Scioscia said. "And the productivity hasn't always been there just from the DH spot if you look at our DH numbers. But it's giving guys a little bit of downtime and it's paid dividends and that's really the only way we can go about it right now." . . .
The Angels seemed excited about the prospect of a day off on Thursday after a frantic weekend of travel that included two cross-country flights and three games in three cities in less than 72 hours.
"Just to relax," pitcher Scot Shields said. "You know it's been a pretty tough week on us with the travel schedule but it's something that we like. "
With every passing day that White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko plays in the postseason, he is probably guaranteeing himself another million dollars in the free agency market.
In a down year for free agents, Konerko might be the most explosive offensive player available. The Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and the Angels may be among the interested teams.
"I will do anything and [General Manager] Kenny Williams will do anything to keep Konerko here," Guillen said. "He's my true leader, he showed up every day to play. He's a gamer. I have nothing negative to say about him."