Ozzie Guillen rips his ex-pitching coach

Ozzie Guillen has fired back at his former pitching coach for the White Sox, calling Don Cooper a great coach but saying he stabbed his fellow Chicago coaches in the back when he negotiated a recent contract extension.

Guillen, hired last month to manage the Florida Marlins after eight years in Chicago, denied what Cooper had asserted on a Chicago radio station two weeks ago -- that Guillen had told White Sox general manager Kenny Williams to "let them sweat," in reference to re-signing the coaching staff.

"Cooper needs to look in the mirror," Guillen said in an interview Monday with the Chicago Sun-Times. "He didn't backstab me. I know who he is. He backstabbed his fellow coaches, the guys he worked with for years. You got family? That's fine. Everyone does. We all knew Coop was Kenny's b----.

"Look, Coop is not a good coach; he's a great coach. But Coop is Coop. He doesn't worry about anyone; he worries about himself. I stuck up for my coaches like a m-----------."

On Sept. 27, a day after Guillen, who will work for ESPN as a "Baseball Tonight" analyst during the World Series, was released from his White Sox contract with one year remaining, Cooper agreed to a four-year contract to remain the club's pitching coach. First-base coach Harold Baines also agreed to a multiyear deal.

No new deals were announced for hitting coach Greg Walker or third-base coach Jeff Cox, who were not expected to return.

"I told (the Sox) I want to keep my coaching staff, and I never lied to the media," Guillen told the Sun-Times Monday. "I talked to (chairman) Jerry Reinsdorf maybe five times (about extending the coaches' contracts over the years). The reason I was so comfortable with the Sox was the coaches. Let them sweat it out? Coop was Kenny's guy, and my staff knew that. We all know what he really is."

Cooper told "The Mully and Hanley Show" on 670 The Score two weeks ago that the reason he went straight to Williams about a new deal was because "I was told that Ozzie was asked, 'What about your coaches? Let's sign your coaches,' and he said, 'No, let them sweat.' "

Cooper, who is finishing his ninth season with the White Sox, has guided the team's pitchers to a .526 winning percentage in that time (799-720) with a 4.27 ERA. White Sox starters lead the major leagues with 792 quality starts since 2003.

The 55-year-old Cooper had been the White Sox's minor league pitching coordinator since 1997 before he became the White Sox pitching coach.

After re-signing Cooper, Williams said there were a number of things that make the White Sox pitching staff click, and Cooper was at the head of the list.

"Well, the pitching has been as consistent over the last decade from the best teams in baseball and that's a testament to our scouting department, to our player development department, to Don Cooper, directly in his direction," Williams said. "It's something that's well deserved and I'm happy, thrilled to know that he's going to be on board here for the next four years."

Guillen told the Sun-Times he was shocked yet elated when former White Sox teammate and third baseman Robin Ventura was hired to replace him as manager Oct. 6. But Guillen said Cooper's two-day stint as interim manager at the end of the season degraded the job.

"That makes me sad and also made me aware as a person that someone you really like, really back up ... you didn't go through the process the right way,'' Guillen told the Chicago newspaper. "I saw Coop saying after I left [last month], 'I can manage in the big leagues.' That sounded like a statement like, 'I'm better than Ozzie.' I know I can never be a pitching coach, but when the games mean s--- for two days, it's easy.

"What I know is I never told Kenny, 'Let them sweat.' That's not true.''

Guillen also weighed in on Williams' thoughts of possibly making Paul Konerko a player/manager,
a consideration the general manager has said he never discussed with anyone.

"Wow, I guess people think managing is easy,'' Guillen said. "I read about that a couple of days ago, and Konerko in the future? Yes, he can be a manager. But I don't think Konerko can handle both. That's another shock. I don't even know what to say.

"Kenny has a different opinion than me, and if Kenny thinks managing is easy, well, everyone has a different opinion about baseball. But when I heard that, wow.''

Information from ESPNChicago.com's Doug Padilla was used in this report.