CHICAGO -- Some people have been critical of Boston's Manny Ramirez for pulling out of next week's All-Star Game in Pittsburgh to rest an ailing right knee, especially since Ramirez is hitting .423 with four home runs and 12 RBIs over his past seven games.
But White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, who will be making his first appearance as manager of the American League All-Stars, is not among that group of Ramirez's detractors. In fact, Guillen hugged the Boston outfielder when the two met in the White Sox dugout prior to Friday's game.
"It's a decision people should respect, and I think it's something people should appreciate," said Guillen of Ramirez. "He let me know right away. I have to make the lineup pretty soon and now I have a good idea about what I want.
"I respect that he's hurt. I believe him. I think the players, they're in the pennant race. To me, it's more important than starting for the American League. Everybody wants to see Manny play, but I go along with him."
Guillen made it clear as early as last Monday that if any infielder or catcher went down and was unable to play, then White Sox third baseman Joe Crede would be the All-Star replacement. If any outfielder pulled out of the competition, such as Major League Baseball announced Ramirez officially did on Friday, Guillen said that Detroit's Magglio Ordonez would be his next choice.
Ordonez was alerted of the possibility by Guillen on Monday, and Guillen was trying to get in touch with Ordonez in Seattle on Friday to make the news official. Guillen did have a chance to talk to Detroit left-hander Kenny Rogers Friday by cell phone, and is still leaning toward starting the veteran on Tuesday. No official decision will be announced in regard to the starting pitcher until Monday's All-Star press conference, according to Guillen.
A replacement in the starting lineup for Ramirez, the American League's top vote-getter from the fans, seems to have been narrowed down to Toronto's Vernon Wells and the White Sox Jermaine Dye. Guillen joked in his pregame media session Friday that he will be criticized for showing favoritism to the White Sox if he starts Dye.
The ultimate decision appears to be more about how Guillen wants to align his outfield. If Guillen starts Dye, hitting .321 with 22 home runs and 61 RBIs, then Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki would play center field. If Guillen opts for Wells, hitting .312 with 21 home runs and 64 RBIs, then Wells would take over his natural position in center, and be flanked by Ichiro and Vladimir Guerrero.
Schilling was not bothered by being overlooked for a spot on the American League roster, even with seven White Sox players taking part in the Midsummer Classic. As Guillen pointed out once again Friday, the only three players he picked from the White Sox were Paul Konerko, Mark Buehrle and Bobby Jenks.
All three certainly were deserving of the honor. And with Buehrle pitching Friday, he also provides a safeguard against starters such as Contreras, Minnesota's Johan Santana and Toronto's Roy Halladay starting Sunday and only being able to work one inning Tuesday.
"I got handcuffed," Guillen said. "I think baseball has to have a rule, and I hope people don't get mad at me, because they should say pick your team, or here's your team.
"Understand what I say. You pick your team or say, 'Here Ozzie,' or whoever it is next year, hopefully it's me again, 'Here's your team you're going to manage.'
"I'm not going to feel guilty about guys that aren't there," Guillen added. "I didn't pick anybody who shouldn't be there. I have two players [Crede and Tadahito Iguchi] who should be in the All-Star Game but they aren't there."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.