Ozzie Guillen back from suspension
MIAMI -- On the day he returned from a team-imposed five-game suspension, Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said Tuesday he will now be on an indefinite self-imposed probation.
Meeting the media for the first time since he apologized to the Cuban American community for praising Cuban dictator Fidel Castro's ability to stay in power for so long, the former longtime Chicago White Sox player and manager continued to say he is sorry.
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"I put myself on probation ... me, nobody else," Guillen said. "It's probation about growing up and being better, and be careful to not trust too many people. That was my problem."
No demonstrations were evident. But in the fourth inning, a fan in the second deck stood, waved his arms and screamed several times, "Ozzie, you're an ..." while finishing the line each time with an R-rated synonym for "jerk."
There were boos when Guillen ran onto the field to complain about a call in the seventh inning, but they were directed at the umpire. The Marlins won 5-2.
Some fans had pledged to stay away in protest. Announced attendance was 24,544, by far the smallest in five games at the Marlins' new ballpark.
The lack of a major protest didn't make Guillen any less sorry for the pain caused by his comments.
"I don't expect everybody to be 100 percent on board with me. I don't," Guillen said. "That's the way life should be. But what I [talked] about for 40 to 50 minutes last week [during his apology] was from the bottom of my heart. I meant every word I said."
I learned a very tough lesson. ... You really learn from mistakes. I hope these mistakes make me a better person, make me realize how much I love this game and make me realize how much I love to be in Miami."” -- Ozzie Guillen
Guillen said he stayed at home during his suspension and watched Marlins games on television, while calling it a weird and awkward situation. He said he never heard any negative remarks from people on the street. And even if he did, it sounded as if Guillen would have taken them in stride.
"I don't think I will change but obviously talking about some issues that aren't my business, you learn from that," he said. "I learned a very tough lesson. Not just me, I think my family, people around me, the organization, players, fans. You really learn from mistakes. I hope these mistakes make me a better person, make me realize how much I love this game and make me realize how much I love to be in Miami."
Despite the backlash, though, Guillen said he never thought about being fired.
"The people running this ballclub are behind me 100 percent," Guillen said. "Obviously they're not too happy and don't agree with what I did, but they supported me."
Marlins pitcher Mark Buehrle, who spent eight seasons with Guillen in Chicago, said he wasn't surprised his manager found himself in hot water, but did see a different side of him this time.
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"I've been around [him] enough to know that something is going to be said or be done to get a lot of attention, but I never thought it would be something like that," Buehrle said. "You can definitely tell it affected him. He said a lot of stuff and never had to apologize or go into this kind of detail explaining himself. Any time you see him doing that you definitely know he knows he messed up."
So what will it do to win back the fans and get the Marlins back on good terms with the community?
"Win," Guillen said. "If you're winning and I do what I think I should do in this community, it will be better. We have a lot of things in mind. It's too early [to talk about it].
"I met with the Marlins about what we will do in the community. The only thing about it, I want the community to know I'm for real. I respect them. Did I hurt them? Yes. But I'm for real and I will let them know."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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