SEATTLE (AP) -Ozzie Guillen doesn't feel endangered.
Empowered, perhaps.
When told before Friday's series opener at Seattle that White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said during this week's league owners meetings that ``Ozzie is my manager'' of a team that will finish out of the playoffs for the second consecutive season, Guillen responded incredulously, ``Well, I'm still under contract.''
A few minutes later, he quipped, ``I expect to be the manager of the White Sox for the next 20 years. Sorry for the people of Chicago that don't want to hear that. But it's up to them,'' meaning Reinsdorf and general manager Kenny Williams.
Guillen was the AL manager of the year two years ago, when the White Sox won 99 games and their first World Series since 1917. Last year, Chicago won 90 games for a second consecutive season - that hadn't happened since 1963-65 - but missed the playoffs.
The White Sox entered Friday 54-66, 12 1/2 games out of first place in the AL Central and just a game above last-place Kansas City. They were last in the AL in runs scored, hits, batting average and on-base percentage.
``I never have any complaints about my players, because they always go out there and play the way they should be playing,'' Guillen said. ``Sometimes it feels like they are not because they are not getting on base, but I know they have a lot of respect for this game.''
Guillen stirs commotion and sometimes contempt for his candor and his outlandish comments. Earlier this season he called a Chicago sports talk radio host on his way to a game against the Cubs to berate him in a profanity-filled tirade, on air.
But he is already looking forward to getting back to the playoffs next season, not over his shoulder about being replaced.
``As long as I'm here, I'm thinking of getting better,'' he said. ``I've talked to Kenny about the situation we are (in), what we are going to look for, what we want, what we need.''
Guillen said Williams has assured him the White Sox will not dump loads of veteran salaries and go into a rebuilding project relying mostly on younger, more inexpensive players.
``We're not going backward. We're not going with kids,'' Guillen said. ``Kenny said we will have a team to compete.
``As for contract, I'm going through how many years it's going to be or not. If the players are playing well, obviously I will have more opportunity. ... I don't want a free pass because of what the players did in 2005. I want to do my job.''
In one breath, he added, ``You're as good as your players perform.''
But then Guillen said, ``This year, I take the blame, because we had a great ballclub. We didn't play the way we thought we were going to play. When we lose, I take the blame. When they are winning, that's for them.''

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