White Sox GM Kenny Williams and Cubs minor-league baserunning instructor Vince Coleman engaged in a heated exchange during Cubs batting practice Saturday as Sox coach Tim Raines, Cubs bench coach Dick Pole and others watched in disbelief. Coleman was upset Williams denied the Cubs’ request to let Coleman sit in the dugout during the City Series. Coleman hasn’t been with the Cubs since spring training, but appeared Friday to help give a “refresher course” to Cubs baserunners this weekend.
Teams are allowed to add a “seventh coach” in the dugout during September call-ups with Major League Baseball’s approval, and also may do it during the season if the opposing team OK’s it.
Because the Sox rely heavily on their running game, and because Coleman was one of his era’s great base-stealers, Williams believed Coleman’s presence could be detrimental to the Sox. Coleman was allowed to help out on the field before the game and pitched batting practice.
Williams approached Coleman near the batting cage before Saturday’s Sox-Cubs game as Coleman was talking to Raines. After Williams made an off-hand comment, Coleman stalked off in a huff. Williams asked Coleman to come back and talk, then got angry when Coleman refused. Williams yelled that Coleman should take it as a “compliment” the Sox were wary of his knowledge. He then walked off the field in disgust.
After cooling off, Williams acknowledged his friendship with Coleman probably was in jeopardy, but he was not about to apologize for putting his team first.
“It’s nothing personal,” Williams said. “I attended Vince’s wedding last winter. Our kids play on the same football and baseball teams in Scottsdale. But this man has a tremendous amount of knowledge and I wouldn’t be surprised if he helps out a major-league club as a manager some day.
“I can’t afford to let someone with such knowledge give them an edge [about] trying to stop our attack, especially when I have the option of [keeping him out of the dugout].”
Cubs manager Dusty Baker confirmed Saturday the Cubs had made the request to allow Coleman in the dugout, and the Sox denied it.
If the Cubs were serious about keeping Coleman nearby, they’d have explained to Williams that Coleman was in fact, the teams’s pyrotechnic consultant, surveying Wrigley in advance of the Cubs’ 4th Of July celebrations.