Guillen apologetic for A-Rod comments

Manager regrets tone of remarks toward third baseman

Ozzie Guillen explained his comments Friday in Tucson. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)

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TUCSON -- The first order of business for White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen on Friday had nothing to do with his club's World Series championship and everything to do with a personal relationship.

Guillen called his first press conference of Spring Training to clarify his thoughts and express his regret about recent comments regarding Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

"I'm going to have to apologize to Alex Rodriguez, his family, his fans, the New York Yankees organization and the White Sox organization because it's the first time I feel like I have done something wrong," Guillen said. "I've been in a lot of controversial things before. I started this one and I'm going to finish it."

"Last night, I had a tough night," he continued. "It's the first time I was ever embarrassed by myself."

In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Guillen said Rodriguez never intended on playing for the Dominican Republic team in the World Baseball Classic and shared his thoughts on Rodriguez's indecision on whether to play for the Dominican or United States. Rodriguez has dual citizenship and was eligible to play for both countries.

In the interview, Guillen said he felt A-Rod was being a hypocrite and that the Dominican team didn't need him on the roster.

"It's the same with [Nomar] Garciaparra playing for Mexico," Guillen said. "Garciaparra only knows Cancun because he went to visit."

Guillen said his comments about Garciaparra were meant to be funny and he stands by them. However, Guillen believes his comments about Rodriguez are not a laughing matter and his message could have been misunderstood. He said his intentions were to protect Rodriguez, not hurt him.

"I don't call him a hypocrite that way. Alex Rodriguez is not a hypocrite," Guillen said. "I was just trying to say he does not have to please people or make people from the United States or from the Dominican Republic or Venezuela happy. When you do that, you sound like you are a hypocrite. If you say, 'Hey, I want to play for the United States, that's the team [to which] I belong' and I move on. That's it. That's what I tried to say."

The manager reiterated his belief that Rodriguez was trying to be too kind about his participation in the WBC and said the infielder is a "big, big, big target, because if Alex doesn't go to that thing, it's going to be a problem because he's the best player we have, period."

"I think I answered the wrong way or people maybe misunderstand the wrong way," Guillen said. "I regret it, yes. I regret it because I put one of the best players right now in that situation. He is going to show up to Spring Training and deal with this."

Guillen stopped short of saying the Yankees third baseman made the right decision by agreeing to play for the United States, but added, "He grew up here, he played baseball here, he went to school here, he was born here. I think he was trying to be nice to people and people tried to defend him for no reason. That's why I said he doesn't owe anything to anybody. I just said it the wrong way."

"I think what I did to Alex, it was wrong," he added. "Alex can do whatever he wants to do. If he wants to play for Japan, fine. I was the wrong guy to say the wrong thing."

White Sox general manager Kenny Williams addressed the topic with Guillen on Thursday night. One of Williams' biggest concerns is avoiding a discussion about players from other teams in such a manner.

"Just because we've come off a world championship, we have work to do as a team and as an organization, and as individuals," Williams said. "Ozzie is still growing into the position and the responsibility of the position as well as I am. We'll just continue to try to evolve in a way that is a first-class and respectable way. We not only want to try to win, we want to try to win in a first-class manner and be known as a first-class organization. Clearly, we have a little bit of work to do, but we will keep at it."

Williams added the chat included a discussion on practicing "no comment" by Guillen in the future. It's a practice Guillen is against.

"Kenny got the wrong guy. You know why? Because if I say 'no comment' I feel guilty about something or I am trying something I have to cover," Guillen said. "I learned a lot from taking the first shot from somebody and I learned a big lesson from this."

A representative for Rodriguez said the All-Star did not have a comment. Rodriguez's agent Scott Boras told the New York Daily News that he was unaware of any bad blood between Rodriguez and Guillen before the comments, adding, "This doesn't sound like the Ozzie I know."

"The thing I'd say about that is that if Alex is a hypocrite, then everyone who is American and has parents of different heritage and wants to be respectful of that is a hypocrite, too," Boras told the newspaper. "If that's being a hypocrite, then I'd want to be one. Alex was thoughtfully considering a difficult decision and was trying to make the right decision for him and his family."

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter did not want to comment specifically on Guillen's comments before Rodriguez had a chance to address the topic, but acknowledged "shots" at Rodriguez during the past two offseasons. Last winter, Red Sox outfielder Trot Nixon said Rodriguez was not the "Yankee type."

"Let them keep taking shots. He had a pretty good year last year," Jeter said. "He makes the most money. A lot of people are probably jealous of him. But I don't know. I haven't really thought about it and we don't really concern ourselves with it."

As for Guillen, he hopes the situation is resolved and does not become a distraction for his club or for Rodriguez and his club. The manager acknowledged any response from Rodriguez would be justified.

"I didn't try to take a shot at Alex. I swear to God I didn't," he said. "I just tried to make a point. You read the article and you can go either way. You can think I hate Alex or I tried to protect him."

Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.