Baseball: Ozney Guillen hoping to land spot with Normal CornBelters
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media May 7, 2014 9:08PM
Updated: May 7, 2014 10:54PM
While his father, former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, watched from a front-row seat near the on-deck circle, Ozney Guillen was at third base Wednesday for the Normal CornBelters.
Even with a 9-4 loss to the Joliet Slammers in the Frontier League exhibition game, it was a special day for Ozney.
“This is the first time he’s seen me with a professional uniform,’’ the 22-year-old rookie said. “He was really excited to get the chance to see me play. When I was in college, he didn’t get to see me play because he was still working.
“Him and my mom are going to be driving a lot this year. If I make the team here, they’ll be following me around. It’s fun to see him in the crowd. It’s nice.’’
After autograph-seekers spotted the elder Guillen in his seat at Silver Cross Field, Slammers staff had to limit the fans’ requests to between innings.
Ozney said his dad lives in Chicago, making it a short trip for Wednesday’s game.
“It was perfect for him to come to Joliet,’’ Ozney Guillen said. “Schaumburg is really close, and I know Windy City is also very close. Normal is only two hours away, so he’s around.’’
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound corner infielder was 0-for-3 with a walk against the Slammers.
Ozney attended Miami-Dade Junior College and played one season at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Fla., where he hit a team-best .415 in 2013.
“My dad has taught me a lot,’’ he said. “I’ve been around the game a lot. Pro ball for me is a better fit. The college game for me was a little too much rah-rah.’’
Ozney was drafted four years ago by the Sox in the 22nd round, but didn’t sign with the team. He signed with the CornBelters in March.
“They gave me an opportunity to make the team, so that’s what I’m doing,’’ he said.
Sandburg graduate Troy Josza is doing the same with the Slammers.
Josza helped his chances with two perfect relief innings, including Guillen’s groundout to end the seventh.
“It’s good getting out there, getting those innings in, still working on getting stronger,’’ Josza said. “I haven’t had a lot of time to throw bullpen, but I was fortunate to find the zone and throw strikes.
“That’s the most important thing. You’ve got to throw strikes. Now you’ve got an opportunity to get outs.’’
“We’ve got tough decisions to make, and the way he’s throwing is making things even tougher,’’ Slammers manager Jeff Isom said. “He commanded his fastball, got ahead in counts.’’
Starter Kody McFarland, Travis Reboulet, Sam Moore, Josza and Ryan Connolly pitched for the Slammers.
Grant DeBruin had an RBI double and Jose Garcia had two RBI singles.