Ordonez makes return to South Side

Ordonez makes return to South Side

A year and a week have passed since Magglio Ordonez played his last home game for the White Sox. So have two surgeries on two different continents, a somewhat contentious contract squabble, a nastier media spat with his former manager and a lucrative signing with a division rival in Detroit.

Yet after all that, the memories of Chicago still seem fresh for him. "It seems like yesterday," Ordonez said.

They'll seem closer than that Monday, when Ordonez finally returns to the Windy City with the Tigers for the start of a three-game series.

The way the White Sox have played this season, it seems like longer than a year since Ordonez was the heart of a power-oriented White Sox offense. Until his injury-shortened contract year, he enjoyed five straight .300 seasons with at least 29 home runs and 99 RBIs. He topped 110 RBIs every year from 1999-2002 and had a .900 OPS from 2000-2003. Two meniscus tears in his left knee derailed his run of stellar numbers.

"I played there for a long time and I have memories of a lot of good times," Ordonez said. "I spent most of my best years in Chicago. It's going to be exciting [coming back]."

The White Sox, of course, have moved on without Ordonez. They'll head into the series with the Majors' best record, a double-digit lead in the AL Central and more than 15 games over the fourth-place Tigers. Yet they don't dismiss what Ordonez did for them.

"No offense to anybody I've played with," White Sox All-Star first baseman Paul Konerko said, "but when that guy's healthy and playing well, I've never played with anybody better."

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen wasn't quite as exuberant, but respectful. "Magglio did a lot of good things for the White Sox," he said. "He put up good numbers, played pretty good for them. It's unfortunate the way it was over."

That's better than Guillen's round of quotes the last time he and Ordonez were in the same ballpark. Ordonez was on the disabled list when the White Sox visited Comerica Park in April, but when interviewed by Chicago reporters during the series, he called Guillen his enemy. Guillen responded in kind and said Ordonez was "playing with fire."

The verbal sparring started in Spring Training. To Ordonez, it's over, though he didn't say whether he would seek out Guillen to talk.

"I don't even think about it much," Ordonez said of the incident. "Whatever happened is in the past. I don't have any bad feelings towards him. Everything that happened between him and me, I didn't take it personally. It happened. We're two people everybody knows."

Nearly everyone on Chicago's South Side would seem to know Ordonez, which raises the question of what kind of reception he'll get when he's introduced Monday night.

"I don't know," Ordonez said. "It's either going to be an ovation or they're going to boo me. There's only two choices. Who knows. I did my best there. I played hard, played every day and put up numbers. That's what people like, when you play hard and you work hard. That's all you can do."

Guillen and the White Sox would like to think the best.

"I expect the fans to be nice with him," Guillen said. "Even with the problem we had early in the season, he never said anything bad about the fans. I don't know how they are going to be, but I think they will treat him real good."

Pitching matchup
DET: RHP Sean Douglass
• 2-0, 2.65 ERA in 2005
• Has not faced CWS

CWS: RHP Orlando Hernandez
• 7-2, 4.88 ERA in 2005
• 1-0, 3.86 ERA vs. DET in 2005

Player to watch
Rondell White went 2-for-3 with an RBI off Hernandez in their matchup earlier this season.

Quotable
"I think he can handle it. I'm sure he wants to do well, but I'm sure that when Wednesday's over he'll be glad it's over, too." -- Manager Alan Trammell, on Ordonez's return

On the Internet
MLB.TV
Gameday Audio
• Gameday
• Official game notes

On television
• DET: FSN
• CWS: WCIU

On radio
• DET: WXYT 1270
• CWS: ESPN Radio 1000, WRTO 1200 (Español)

Quick hits
Ordonez has a nine-game hitting streak, batting .368 (14-for-38) with three doubles, two homers and 10 RBIs over that span. ... Craig Monroe ended a 10-game hitting streak Sunday by going 0-for-4. ... Placido Polanco remains day-to-day with a strained left hamstring tendon.

On deck
• Tuesday: at White Sox, 8:05 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: at White Sox, 2:05 p.m. ET
• Thursday: vs. Twins, 7:05 p.m. ET

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.