Is It Time for Ozzie to Go? Guillen and the Sox Say No, but His Critics Won't Keep Quiet as the Sox Go for It All

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Byline: Scot Gregor Daily Herald Sports Writer

SARASOTA, Fla. - Ozzie Guillen has heard all of the talk.

He can't hit anymore. His 33-year-old legs are better suited for a softball diamond than a major-league setting. He's too outspoken. He's certainly not worth the $4 million he'll get this season, the final year of his contract.

And, finally, there's no way the White Sox will pick up the option they have on him for 1998.

"Hopefully, they will pick it (option) up," Guillen said as he prepares for his 13th straight season with the Sox. "But I don't think they will; that's just the way I feel. Baseball is a business, and when you've got a guy making a lot of money, you never know."

Just because Guillen thinks this might be his final season with the White Sox doesn't mean he thinks his career is coming to an end. Sure, he's heard all of the talk, but that doesn't mean the confident Venezuelan believes it.

"This will not be my last year in baseball," Guillen said. "When I see guys who are better than me, I'll leave, but I haven't seen them yet. If I can play until I'm 50 years old, I will. I'm 33 years old and I can still play."

The juices are starting to flow now, and Guillen is no longer thinking about his contract option. He's thinking about getting a new, long-term deal from his dear friend, White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.

"Jerry knows, everybody knows, I want to stay in Chicago my whole career," Guillen said. "Besides winning, that's my main goal. I've got the money, I don't need the money.

"If Jerry gave me a four-year deal and I can only play two or three years, I guarantee I would go to him and say, 'I cannot play anymore, but I'm not going to sit here and steal from you.' I'd give a year, two years of it back. I came into this game with my head up and I will leave the game with my head up."

From his winter home in Arizona, Reinsdorf said only time will determine Guillen's fate.

"It's way too premature. We have to see how the season plays out," Reinsdorf said. "First, I have to get past (Michael) Jordan and (Dennis) Rodman.

"I've always had a fond, personal feeling for Ozzie, and there aren't too many players I can say that about. But I had deeper feelings for Harold Baines and he got traded (in 1989). And I had feelings for Greg Walker and he was released.

"I would like to see Ozzie finish his career with the White Sox, but those are just personal feelings. Schu (general manager Ron Schueler) has the authority to do what he wants, and I'm not going to tie his hands. …