CHICAGO -- Preparing to face the Chicago Cubs in this highly-charged weekend series at Wrigley Field apparently was not nearly as tough of a task as picking the American League All-Star team, according to Ozzie Guillen.
The White Sox manager announced he completed his All-Star task prior to Friday's contest, following a 70-minute meeting with pitching coach Don Cooper, White Sox vice president of communications Scott Reifert, assistant general manager Rick Hahn and Major League baseball spokeswoman Phyllis Mehrige.
"It's done, and thank God it's done," said Guillen with a smile. "The weird thing about it is sometimes you have to pick people over others, with the way the roster works. It's not easy because they put you in situations you don't want to be.
"I was all confused. It was like I was talking Japanese or something. You can't pick this one because there's nobody from this ballclub. This one, no, because you have three of those guys in the same position. It was kind of confusing."
Honoring a strict Major League Baseball embargo that lasts until Sunday night at 6 p.m. CT, Guillen would not divulge how many selections he had as the manager, let alone how many White Sox players he picked. Guillen was believed to have seven manager's choices after the fans and players voted, but that number could be reduced to three or four after filling voids left by teams that did not have a representative.
And filling those vacancies is where the confusion arose for Guillen. Maybe not so much confusion, as it was consternation and eventually exhaustion for the first-time All-Star manager. Not only did Guillen have to represent the teams without a player, but he also had to pick by need, while giving the American League the best chance to win the Midsummer Classic.
Make no mistake that Guillen is in this game to win. Guillen pointed out once again that even when he plays Nintendo with his three sons, he tries to win. With home-field advantage in the World Series on the line for the All-Star Game, the stakes are simply much greater.
"Maybe some guys aren't going to play, but now you can't worry about that. It's about winning," Guillen said. "I'm going to put the guys in who will help to win the game.
"We need a win, and I'm going to try to play everyone, but I have a job to do and that's to win the game. They make that real clear."
In preparing for his managerial role in Pittsburgh, Guillen talked to Cubs manager Dusty Baker and Cubs broadcaster Bob Brenley about the experience. Baker managed the National League in 2003 and Brenley did the same in 2002, after winning the World Series title with Arizona in 2001.
The word received by Guillen was that the All-Star Game is a great experience for the players and coaches, but with all the extra responsibilities and pressure, it can be a little bit of a headache for the manager. Guillen rattled off all the media commitments he already has, starting Sunday night, after the selections are made official.
Along the lines of the "be in it to win it" theory, Guillen stressed that he wants any pitcher who works during Sunday's first-half finale to be able to guarantee him at least one inning in the All-Star Game. That list appears to include Boston's Curt Schilling and the White Sox Jose Contreras.
Of course, any pitcher selected by the players will be in Pittsburgh, regardless of their weekend workload. Guillen also expects to be criticized in regard to some of his final choices and ultimate omissions.
"You go as a manager, and you are going to be ripped before the game and ripped after the game for no reason," Guillen said. "That's the way it is. I told them that I've been ripped before without managing.
"I know I'm going to be asked a lot of questions about a few people. But that's the way it is. I know I'm not the first one to be asked questions about players."
Guillen stated that there are going to be "a few Sox there," an obvious point for one of the best teams with one of the best records in all of baseball. He also added that there were a few of his own players who were left out because of the overall process, not to mention a few players around the American League who he really wanted to take.
One of the tougher positions figures to be first base, with designated hitters such as Boston's David Ortiz, Cleveland's Travis Hafner and the White Sox Jim Thome battling position players such as the White Sox Paul Konerko and Minnesota's Justin Morneau for a couple of spots in the National League park. The final choices were not easy, according to Guillen.
Then again, it's a process he wants to go through in 2007.
"Like I said, that's everybody's dream to be a manager in the All-Star Game," Guillen said. "But in the meantime, it's a lot of responsibility.
"Before, it was easy, because you don't have to win, but now you try to build a team to win. Now, I'm going to pick these guys, but I'm going to use this guy more than that guy."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.