Part II – Interview with Oney Guillen: Making My Mark in the Guillen World
(Welcome to part II of a III part profile and interview series with Oney Guillen)
MLB reports: In part II of my interview series with Oney Guillen, I jump right into my conversation with Oney. I tried to cover a broad spectrum of Oney’s life and career, but it was up to Oney, as the interviewee to provide the amount of detail he wanted for each of the selected topics. My goal at the end of the series was to give the baseball world an insight as to who Oney Guillen is and more background about him as a player, son, businessman and person. Without further adieu, I give you: Oney Guillen.
MLB reports: Hello Oney. Thank you for joining me and agreeing to this interview series.
Oney: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.
MLB reports: Let’s jump right into it Oney. You were born in Venezuela and moved to Chicago in 2004. You were a 36th round pick of the White Sox in 2007. What were your first reactions when you found out that the White Sox drafted you?
Oney: Well…it was an honor and very cool to be drafted. I felt like I had worked very hard to get to that point and deserved to be drafted by a major league team. Being drafted by the White Sox was a bonus. I very much wanted to get my career started and play minor league baseball. I felt that I earned it and was ready to play in the minor leagues. I remember being curious as to what would happen to me after being drafted. For the most part, I was just happy and grateful for the opportunity.
MLB reports: Did your thoughts on being drafted change over time? How did you find the minor league experience?
Oney: When I joined Bristol right after being drafted, I fit right in with my new teammates. When I met the guys right away we got along great and it was a very interesting journey for all of us. The truth is that playing in the minors is not as glamorous as some people think it would be.
MLB reports: Oh No? What was the minor league experience like for you?
Oney: I always said that I grew up backwards as I went from being in a big league clubhouse every day as a youngster to riding the bus in the minors for many hours. The minor league experience was able to show me the amount of baseball knowledge that I had and I often compared myself to the coaches that I met in the minors. I realized in the minors that I had a special gift when it came to the game within the game.
MLB reports: That’s great Oney. It sounds like playing in the minors gave you a good idea of where your baseball future was headed.
Oney: I knew that I had the knowledge and the ability to succeed in the game. My challenge was to find my role in the game.
MLB reports: How would you describe Oney Guillen the baseball player? What do you consider your greatest baseball skills to have been?
Oney: I was a very good defensive player and that was always my favorite part of the game. For me it was making the great catches and making all the defensive plays, including turning two. As a second baseman, with Venezuelan heritage, defense was always preached to me to be the key part of the game. But aside from my defense on the field, as a player I relied heavily on my mind. My years of experience in major league clubhouses and all the knowledge passed to me by my family and father not only helped me on the field, but it was wisdom that I was able to pass along to some of my teammates.
MLB reports: Do you miss playing baseball?
Oney: What I miss the most is being around the guys on the team. I made so many friends in my minor league career and I miss being around them in the clubhouse and going to war with those guys. I enjoyed teaching guys my age and even older players that baseball is a thinking game as much as it is physical. It is the mental side of baseball that is usually neglected and can destroy many players’ careers. I really enjoyed teaching my teammates how to be mentally tough and to train their brain as well as their bodies. I miss being on the road with my teammates…many stories come to mind…
MLB reports: Really? Do tell.
Oney: Let’s just say it was a really neat experience. My playing career was definitely the highlight of my baseball career thus far.
MLB reports: Reflecting on your playing career, what were your proudest accomplishments on the baseball field?
Oney: Well, truth be known, my career wasn’t that long (grin). I played for four teams over two seasons, for fifty-two total games in my career. My favorite memory as a professional that I am most proud of is playing exhibition games in Mexico with my father Ozzie as my manager. That was pretty cool. My last game also happened to be in AAA with many of the White Sox stars, which was a perfect ending to my playing career.
MLB reports: Who was your favorite player growing up, that you most idolized and patterned your game after?
Oney: I definitely admired the way my dad played the game. He was hardnosed and played the game the right way. But I most idolized Roberto Alomar growing up. Robbie was my all-time favorite. I admired him so much that I even tried to wear my uniform like him.
MLB reports: I guess it was no coincidence that you played second base.
Oney: Correct. Alomar definitely influenced my position choice.
MLB reports: Did you ever get to meet Roberto and if so, what was that like?
Oney: Roberto Alomar was a family friend, so it was great getting to spend time with him. I got to talk to him and hang out with him on many occasions. I will never forget my time with Robbie as he is an incredible baseball person and I had so much that I learned from my time with him.
MLB reports: On the flipside, which current MLB player do you most enjoy watching?
Oney: Right now, my favorite player has to be Robinson Cano on the Yankees. Cano makes all the plays look so smooth and effortless. In my opinion, Cano is the best player that the Yankees have right now, which says a lot since he plays on a team with so many stars.
MLB reports: Getting back to your father Ozzie for a moment., how much of an influence did he have on you as a baseball player and a person?
Oney: My father and I have a very unique and special relationship, as many fathers and sons do. Look, I got to grow up in a house with Ozzie Guillen, so it definitely was not dull. My dad was a great player and an even better manager- but by far, his most successful job has been his role as dad. He was always honest with his kids and never sugarcoated anything. He always treated me like a man and brought me up to act like one.
MLB reports: What did you most learn from Ozzie Guillen, the father?
Oney: My dad always gave all of children love and education. Those were the two biggest things that he could ever give my brothers and I. My dad always told me to stand up for what I believe in and to never be afraid of anyone. At the end of the day, my father always insisted that I tell the truth and by telling the truth, I would never have regrets. The discipline that my father instilled within me carried me as a baseball player and into the man that I am today.
MLB reports: Not many people know that after your playing career, that you joined the White Sox head office in the scouting and video department. You resigned in 2010. Do you miss it?
Oney: Truthfully, I do not miss working in the front office. The part of the game that I miss somewhat is being around the game itself, on the field, in the dugout and clubhouse. Being around the game every day on the field is like a drug, it is something that I was addicted to and could never get enough of.
MLB reports: What did you like and not like so much about working in the White Sox front office?
Oney: From my experience, working in a major league front office really opens your eyes, as to what is really going on and how the day-to-day operations of a team works. It was great because I learned what it took to be a part of a front office and the experiences and lessons I learned will stay with me for a lifetime. However, what I also saw was how little some of the people that I worked with in the Sox front office knew about baseball. I observed people that had more of a say on the team due to the mere fact that they were older or had spent more years in the front office than me. Just because those people were older or had more years than me, when it came down to baseball knowledge some of those guys did not know very much. The politics of that side of the game really bothered me.
MLB reports: Did you dislike anything else about working in the Sox front office?
Oney: I did not miss being away from home for long stretches at a time. I’m glad that in my current role that I can be home and continue to watch the Sox. It used to me kill me that I did not know what was going on in the front office decision-making. Looking back, I wish things could have been handled differently. I wish someone had had the courage to give me feedback and openly discuss my role in the head office rather than choosing to hide and not communicate with me. Truth be known, communication was poor on both sides I guess.
MLB reports: Any regrets of leaving the White Sox organization?
Oney: I do not regret anything. I do not live in the past and I feel that my life is better now as a result of my decision to leave the Sox organization and pursue other opportunities. What transpired between the White Sox and myself was going to happen one way or another. While I was employed with the White Sox, I was told that my father could not have his own website and twitter account as they did not fit in the team’s policies. After the team refused to allow me to create and operate a website for my father, I decided to resign. The ironic part is that since I departed, the team has allowed my father to have a twitter account and website. I operate the website with my brother through our company, Triple Crown Marketing.
MLB reports: Let’s touch upon Triple Crown shortly. If you would have been allowed to create and operate a website for Ozzie, do you think you still would have been with the White Sox front office today?
Oney: No, because what transpired was going to happen, one way or another. I feel like I was being made into a scapegoat for some team problems and I am fine with that. I am a man that takes accountability for his actions and knows what really happened between myself the team. But I do not regret anything that has happened. I truly feel that everyone involved is better off this way.
MLB reports: ………
Thank you for reading Part II of my Oney Guillen interview. Stay tuned for Part III, the final chapter of the interview as Oney discusses his future in baseball and working for the White Sox and any other major league team. He also comments on twitter, his brothers, his current career and what the future holds for Oney Guillen. All coming up next week. Subscribe to the MLB reports by following the link at the top of our site to be notified on this article and all daily baseball posts.
***A special thank you to Oney Guillen for his time and effort as part of being interviewed for this interview series. Oney agreed to share private photos from his family album as part of this series. A thank you as well to Peter Stein, my editor in helping to prepare this piece.***
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