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Friday, July 10, 2009

Ozney Guillen would love to play for his dad

Jim Ecker        
MARIETTA, Ga. -- Ozney Guillen has mixed feelings about the Chicago White Sox possibly making the playoffs and World Series this year. As a White Sox fan, he'd love to see it happen. But as Ozzie Guillen's son, he'd like to see the 2009 season end as quickly as possible so his father -- the White Sox manager -- can return to Florida.

"From a professional standpoint, I hope they do (make it), because the World Series is where everything is good," Ozney said after playing for the Florida Diamond Pros in the World Wood Bat Association 17U National Championships. "But from the 'father' side, I just want him to be home. I like for him to be around."

Ozney is a 6-foot-3, 180-pound center fielder, a good-looking prospect who attends high school in Miami and commutes to Chicago whenever possible during the baseball season to visit his father, the White Sox skipper who led Chicago to the World Series title in 2005. He spent more time with his father the last two seasons, but this year he's busy himself with summer ball and the Diamond Pros.

Ozney said his father has seen him play only a handful of high school games in Miami. "He sees the first few games of the season, and then he has to leave for spring training," he explained.

Although Ozney misses his father during the major league season, he's had a rare opportunity to spend quality time with his dad on two World Series champions. Ozzie Guillen was a coach for the Florida Marlins when they won the World Series in 2003, and two years later he led the White Sox to the top. Ozney got an insider's look at both World Series champs -- in the locker room, on the field before games, and on the bench.

"It's been fun," he said. "It's a different bringing-up than most people. I was in the World Series, emotionally, when I was like 11 or 12 (with the Marlins). It's been fun growing up with it."

Ozzie Guiilen played in the Major Leagues for 16 years, including 12 years with the White Sox. He was a three-time all-star and popular with White Sox fans, who cheered his return to Chicago as their manager in 2004, the first manager from Venezuela in the major leagues.

Ozney said his father never pushed him to play baseball.

"To tell you the truth, my dad never made me play any sport that I didn't want to," he said. "He actually went crazy more when I played basketball and volleyball than when I was playing baseball. In baseball, he just sits back more and just lets me play."

Ozzie Guillen is known as a free spirit who speaks his mind and gets exciteable at times, but Ozney said he's not like that at Ozney's baseball games.

"He gets a little nervous when I go up there, but he's always quiet. He always tries not to make too much noise. I know it's hard to believe," he said, laughing, "but he's always hiding around and you can't really tell if he's there."

Ozney has two older brothers who are involved with the family business. Ozzie Guillen Jr., the oldest son, is a Spanish/English translator for the White Sox and an announcer for the Spanish radio station in Chicago that does the White Sox games. Oney Guillen, the middle son, was taken in the 36th round of the 2007 draft by the White Sox and is now a scout for the organization.

Ozney would like to play pro baseball someday, especially for the White Sox and their personable skipper, but he has an inkling of what that might be like.

"For my father? Hard, because I'm told he's hard on his players, and being his son, he'd be really hard on me," he said. "But it should be fun, because he's a good manager and I love the way he plays baseball."

It's obvious that Ozney loves his father and respects the way he treats people.

"My dad is not going to change for anybody," he said. "He's playful, he messes around. When he goes to the high school games, he's real close to the guys. He messes around with everybody. He doesn't care if it's the president of the United States or a bum in the street. He's the same way with everybody."
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