Ozzie Guillen apologizes to Marlins for Castro comments
Nearly all the Miami Marlins rushed over to the dugout railing and playfully pretended to listen when Joey Cora sat down to speak about filling in for suspended manager Ozzie Guillen.
Shortly after Guillen addressed the team in the clubhouse Wednesday and apologized for saying he admired Fidel Castro, it was business as usual for the players.
To a man, they had his back.
"It's really a hard time for him and his family," closer Heath Bell said. "We felt bad for him. You have to understand that occasionally guys make mistakes. At least he's owning up to it and not trying to hide or shy away from it. He's going to try and make up for his mistakes.
"He can only be a better person out of it. Like he said, if he doesn't learn from this, he's stupid. That's what he said."
Guillen's comments led to his five-game suspension that started when Miami played the Phillies in the second game of a three-game series. The Marlins, who opened a new ballpark last week and added several marquee free agents over the winter, are off to a 2-3 start.
A day after a contrite Guillen held an hourlong news conference in Miami, he talked to the team for less than 10 minutes and expressed similar emotions.
"There's nothing he needs to apologize to us about," reliever Mike Dunn said. "He's our manager and we back him 100 per cent."
Outfielder Logan Morrison said: "I love the guy."
The Marlins conclude the series with Philadelphia on Thursday, before returning home to play Houston on Friday.
Guillen's praise of the Cuban dictator in an interview with Time magazine outraged the Cuban-American community in Miami and led some politicians to call for his dismissal.
"This one was big and he felt it from the beginning," said Cora, a close friend of Guillen who's been coaching under him since 2004 with the Chicago White Sox. "He got shaken, he felt it. After he analyzed what happened, in retrospect, he wouldn't have said what he said. He apologized and it came from the heart and hopefully he makes amends with the community.
Cora has filled in for Guillen before, though never under these circumstances. He said he planned to manage games the way Guillen would and was certain players wouldn't be affected.
Things weren't quite the same for him, of course.
"I've never had this many people try to get me to talk," Cora joked. "You guys know me. I don't talk. I barely say 'Hi' to people."
Guillen apologized over the weekend after his remarks were published, and called it the biggest mistake of his life at his news conference on Tuesday.
"We're not worried about it," Morrison said of the situation. "We're worried about winning games. It's not a distraction. It's not an excuse to play [poorly]."
The team didn't consider firing Guillen or ask him to resign five games into his tenure, Marlins president David Samson said on Tuesday.
Guillen said he doesn't love or admire Castro.
"I was saying I cannot believe somebody who hurt so many people over the years is still alive," he said.
Time said Tuesday it stands by its story.
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said the remarks "have no place in our game" and were "offensive to an important part of the Miami community and others throughout the world."
"As I have often said, baseball is a social institution with important social responsibilities," Selig added in a statement on Tuesday. "All of our 30 clubs play significant roles within their local communities, and I expect those who represent Major League Baseball to act with the kind of respect and sensitivity that the game's many cultures deserve."