Ozzie scolds anti-Thome fans ... again
April 14, 2007
BY JOE COWLEY Staff Reporter
CLEVELAND -- Jim Thome got what he expected from Cleveland fans when his name was announced for each at-bat on Friday, but the booing for the former long-time Indians slugger still wasn't sitting well with Ozzie Guillen.
As a matter of fact, the White Sox manager was anticipating a warm welcome for Thome this time around, after he was booed in his return to Cleveland all of last season.
With that not the case, that left Guillen with a message to Cleveland and its fans.
''This man is Cleveland Indians, this man is going to be in the Hall of Fame in a Cleveland Indians uniform,'' Guillen said. ''Respect that. Appreciate that. This man, when he goes into the Hall of Fame, he won't wear no [expletive] White Sox uniform, he'll be wearing a Cleveland Indians hat. He won't wear no Philadelphia hat. If they boo me, fine. I deserve that. I earned that. But when you boo this man, this is a classy man, he's one guy that's going to represent the Cleveland Indians in the Hall of Fame.''
Thome spent the first 12 years of his big-league career with the Tribe. When he left as a free agent after the 2002 season, the Indians were rebuilding and offered him a five-year, $60 million deal. Compared to the seven-year deal offered to him by Philadelphia that could have reached the $94 million mark with bonuses and options, he chose the Phillies.
''They should respect that we play the game to make money, like a doctor has a job,'' Guillen said. ''Hall of Fame? Yes, nice. Hall of Fame don't make people go to college, Hall of Fame doesn't pay for college for your kids. You think the money was right somewhere else, you have to respect that. I guarantee you he wanted to stay here.
''He will be in the Hall of Fame. He will be in a Cleveland hat. I have to talk to him to make sure he wears the White Sox.''
As for Thome, he continued to handle the entire situation with class, reiterating that all of his memories from his Cleveland days are good ones.
''Let's face it -- I left here as a free agent, so there will be fans who are a little upset,'' Thome said. ''I understand that. On the other hand, I hope they understand my reasoning for why I did what I did. As a man, you have to be held accountable for your actions. I certainly have tried to do that. I haven't run or hid from things. I left, and it is what it is.''