When Mark Buehrle made it clear that he'd liked to have seen Kevin Kolb get more playing time for the Eagles, Kenny Williams joked that he would file it away to the "No drama for Kenny zone". Well, unless they're knocking out walls at 35th & Shields to create more space for this 'zone', I'd say the drama-free era has been bludgeoned to a close.
To the team's credit, it's not because they're an inexhaustible reservoir of petty squabbling, it's because the animosity emanating from the Bobby Jenks' split just won't subside.
Hey, maybe Bobby's 'all-in' too.
For this most recent episode, the fires were initially stoked by Jenks, who just doesn't feel right giving answers for the standard new-signee Spring Training "I'm so thrilled to be here!" articles without bringing up how thrilled he is to not be in Chicago anymore.
"A lot of the stuff with [White Sox manager] Ozzie [Guillen] and the
front office gets old," the right-hander said, according to the Chicago
Tribune. "It has been a problem for a long time. It was a problem before
last year. It was a problem before last year. ...
It's going to be nice for me to see how things are done here."
Oh, and he added that Oney has "middle-child syndrome". Yeah, I'm sure that went unnoticed.
Pretty quickly afterwards, Ozzie went on a long, angry rant about how long of an angry rant he will go on if Jenks ever decides to make this anymore personal than it already clearly is. Here's the quote-centric portion of Mark Gonzales' Trib article, which happens to be the vast majority of Gonzales' article.
"That's sad because it's coming from him," Guillen said. "That surprises
me. Everybody in this organization did a lot of great things for him.
Did he pitch good for us? Yes, very, very good. But in the meanwhile,
just worry about setting up some games over there. Just worry about
Boston, don't worry about the White Sox."
"Too bad that all the stuff we had between me and Kenny interrupted his
career because he did a lot of bad things last year," Guillen quipped.
"We lied for him, we protected him. I'm the first manager in the history
of baseball to give a guy a week off to take care of his kids when his
father-in-law was sick. It wasn't even his wife, it even wasn't a
(family) member. But it was out of respect I have for his family. I sent
him home because he had to babysit his kids because his father-in-law
was sick. I don't think any manager is doing that. But coming from him, I
Guillen wished that Jenks, who wasn't tendered a contract with the Sox
this winter, would focus solely on the Red Sox, who gave him a two-year,
$12 million contract to serve as a set-up man.
"We don't miss him," Guillen said. "You ask 30 guys in there. By the
way, I was asking for his phone number to talk him to about it, and
nobody had his phone number. None of his (former) teammates had his
phone number. That you can tell what happened. But (criticism of ) me,
that's fine. He wasn't talking about the ballclub, he was talking about
Ozzie and Kenny (Williams). I respect that.
"Thank God he wasn't talking about the club. If Bobby was taking about
the club, I would have been everywhere on ESPN because I will rip his
guts. But he was talking about me. I can take that. Just be careful of
what you say about Oney because Oney will say stuff he's not supposed to
be saying. That's just a warning for him just in case somebody don't
call him. Just stay away and don't name Oney for this because it will be
Guillen said that Jenks' unreliability because of family issues and
health was one of the biggest reasons the Sox finished second in the
American League Central last year.
"He showed up once a week to pitch," Guillen said. "We were loyal to
him, played him. I was a very bad manager because I kept him as my
closer when he couldn't (close). He's got to look himself in the mirror.
Too bad. I still love his kids and wife.
Guillen joked that he was keeping a low profile and wanted spring training to run smoothly.
"If that happened two years ago or last year, I can make a book about
this kid," Guillen said. "A book, not one page, I can make a book. And I
feel bad for him. I feel sad he thinks that way about me. Very sad
because he knows I can easily, easily kill this kid in the paper. He's
not going to win."
I'm as tired of Jenks of anyone. It's irritating and disappointing that he sees fit to trash an organization that claimed him off waivers and gave him his first shot in the big leagues, and it's more irritating that he continues to take shots at the front office even though he's landed fine (well-paid and on a contender). There's not a whole lot of reason to doubt that Ozzie's telling the truth about being tolerant of Jenks' personal issues--after all, they had a lot to do with his departure from Anaheim, and he's not coming off as an angel now--or that he's distant from the guys currently on the Sox roster.
But that's pretty much immaterial. Teams have to deal with jerk players all the time (who knows what Carl Everett must have been like in the clubhouse?), and it never makes it any better to engage with them in their BS. Whatever damage Jenks' snotty remarks did to the organization's reputation amongst players was matched by Ozzie's response, even if--as he noted--he stopped short of total war.
The Sox can land free agents. Even if all the times I shouted "Please Carl, please! Please-please-pleeeeeeeeassssee!" at Carl Crawford last April from the left-field bleachers went unanswered, this off-season's signing spree dismissed any notion that Ozzie's reputation is poisoned around the league by Jenks and others like him; at least not enough to dissuade guys from signing when they're offered one year more than anyone else. But for players like Konerko and Beckham, and for Kenny Williams, who so much wanted to move on from this recent history of being newsworthy for non-baseball reasons, this can only be a disappointment.
Fortunately, there's only so much longer this can be stretched on. The season hasn't started yet, but when it does, the fact that Jenks isn't on the team anymore should become more readily apparent than it is now, where he's still managing to feature prominently in stories about the Chicago White Sox.
Bobby's gone...maybe if we get lucky he'll start to act like it.