Ozzie ready to usher in new era for Marlins
Manager primed to lead club to first postseason since '03
The 2012 Marlins are all about change.
The franchise has undergone a dramatic transformation, becoming the Miami Marlins, while playing in their new retractable-roof ballpark, and sporting a new look.
In case you missed it, gone is the Florida tag, as well as the old logo and uniforms. Part of the makeover is the addition of a new voice.
New manager Ozzie Guillen brings his own style, and an outspoken direction to a franchise that previously was comfortable being low key.
Guillen, who joins Miami after eight years of managing the White Sox, brings a definite edge. He's outspoken, and sometimes outrageous. He's passionate and humble. He's fun-loving on the field, yet deeply serious about his craft.
Under Guillen in 2005, the White Sox ended an 88-year drought by winning the World Series title. In doing so, the Venezuelan native made history, becoming the first Latin-born manager of a World Series winner.
He also has the distinction of being an American League Rookie of the Year (1985) and AL Manager of the Year (2005).
Signed to a four-year, $10 million deal, Guillen's task in Miami is restore the franchise to playoff glory. Guillen has a feel for that glory, considering he was the Marlins' third-base coach when they won it all in 2003.
Now after the offseason acquisitions of closer Heath Bell, shortstop Jose Reyes and starters Mark Buehrle and Carlos Zambrano, Guillen's task is to mold the club into a playoff team, which the Marlins haven't been since 2003.
The stakes are high, but Guillen feels the timing is right for something special to happen in Miami.
Guillen sat down with MLB.com recently to discuss his move to Miami, as well as his team's chances.
MLB.com: Has the transition from the White Sox to the Marlins been what you thought it would be?
Guillen: It's a new chapter. It's a new experience. It's a new ballclub. It's a lot of responsibility. I'm not going to say there is pressure, because I think we have a good ballclub. It's a challenge, like every year. I'm glad they picked me to manage this ballclub. My job is to try to get the best out of the players and make those guys work.
MLB.com: The American League to National League style is different, obviously, the pitcher is hitting. How will that change be for you?
Guillen: In the American League, you've got a little more offense because the pitcher is not involved. Like, you can hit-and-run with the seventh hitter because you don't have to worry about pinch-hitting for the pitcher. Obviously, you have the pitcher in the middle of the games, and it's a decision you have to make. You have to make a decision, when the guy is throwing good, and you need one run. Do you pinch-hit? But I'm not going to change. You've got to manage around how the team plays. They will dictate to me how I will manage. Of course, it's a little different ballgame.
MLB.com: When you won the World Series with the White Sox in 2005, you joke that people said you were a "genius" that year. Things didn't go so well in the last couple of years in Chicago. Were you more of a genius seven years ago compared to recent years?
Guillen: I'm the same guy. Unfortunately, when things aren't going right, that's why you're getting paid the big money. I do not believe in good managers. I do not believe in good coaches. I believe in how the team plays. A lot of people say, 'What's a good manager?' Well, is it the one who wins the most games? Is it the ones who get along with the players better? The one who gets [on the players more]?
I think the good manager is the one who wins the World Series. That's the good manager. Everybody else failed. But, I think the good managers are the ones who get the best out of their players every day. They gain the respect for what they're doing. Respect is what it's all about. Have good communication and have some fun. That's my philosophy about the game.
MLB.com: Who inspired you the most? Your personality is what it is. You're very vocal, passionate. Who inspired you?
Guillen: It's funny, because the guys I've played for were very quiet. I played for Tony La Russa, Gene Lamont. I played for a lot of managers. Bobby Cox. I worked for Jack [McKeon] and Jeff Torborg. Those are different types of people than me. I loved the way Billy Martin managed. I loved the way Earl Weaver managed, and how [Lou] Piniella managed. But everybody has different styles. Everybody has different ways. Everybody has different philosophies about the game. That's why baseball is so beautiful because everybody around the game plays it different. That's what makes the game so special.
MLB.com: Do you like those guys because they are so emotional? They're fiery.
Guillen: I like the guys who play the game right, and enjoy the game. You cannot change how people are. [Omar] Infante is very different than [Hanley] Ramirez. Ramirez is very different than [Jose] Reyes. I manage those guys around the personalities that they have. I like people who just respect the game, play the game right and play the game hard. That's all I ask of them.
MLB.com: We're at the end of camp, and you've had Spring Training to see Hanley Ramirez. He's obviously a high-profile guy, who has gotten a lot of attention. Is anything about him a little different or the same, now that you've been around him?
Guillen: I cannot say if anything is different or the same because people that were around him in the past should answer that question. I don't know how he was in the past. But the day I signed a contract with the Marlins, this kid has been great. Our relationship has been pretty good. It's very open. Very respectful. I don't have any complaints about him yet. I don't think Hanley has any complaints about me yet. One of the best thing about camp has been Hanley Ramirez's smile. Hanley Ramirez is having fun. That's what we want from him. I don't ask anything more from him. Go play the game right, have fun, and play the game the way we should be playing. You have teammates you have to respect. You have to respect the fans. You have to respect your managers. And now, if Hanley continues to do what he's been doing, he has a chance to be the MVP of this league.
MLB.com: Hanley is that talented?
Guillen: Yes. There is no doubt in my mind that he has that much talent.
MLB.com: And Jose Reyes. You've talked about him being so energetic and such a special guy. What is it about him?
Guillen: I think the best thing that happened to Hanley is Reyes. Reyes is the light of this ballclub. He turns the lights on. He's the inspiration. He is the igniter on the field, off the field. This kid shows up every day with so much enthusiasm. He's very happy. He plays the game right and practices the game right. He's a special person. You're not going to find that guy everywhere.
MLB.com: Why do you think that is?
Guillen: He loves baseball. He loves baseball and he is making money doing what he loves. That's easy to do.
MLB.com: Ozzie, how much talent is in this camp?
Guillen: A lot to win the division. Put it that way. I don't know if we will win it. We'll see how it all works. We're going to play in a good division. We're going to play against very talented clubs. But I think with the ballclub we have, we should compete.
MLB.com: You saw this team in 2002 and 2003. You obviously won the World Series in 2003, but there were small crowds playing in a stadium built first for football. You are now back here, the team is playing in a beautiful new building, the payroll has risen. TV shows like on the Showtime network are following you. What do you think about everything surrounding this club?
Guillen: I'm happy with where I am. It was meant to be. I think we're in a position to do something very nice for this city of Miami. It's a very underrated city in baseball. They've won two World Series championships, and nobody even talks about them. Nobody even cared about what they did. It's a shame. Now we're going to have a new ballpark. We're a new name. I hope we play well, and win another one, and put ourselves back on top in this game.
MLB.com: How much of a source of pride would it be to help make Miami baseball big?
Guillen: I think right now, we will be. Everybody is into it. It's our job to keep it there. If we play the game right, we're going to keep the fans happy, and feel proud, and be proud to be a Marlins fan.
MLB.com: Are you going to be a manager for a long time?
Guillen: If you asked me two years ago, I would have said no. If you asked me last year, I might have said no. It's like every other job. Sometimes you wake up in the morning, and you say, 'Wow, look at how beautiful this thing is. How lucky I am.' I want to be like Bobby Cox and Jack McKeon, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa, and say, 'Yes, I want to see myself there.' But sometimes I wake up, saying, 'Just win another one and see what happens.' I love baseball. I have a lot of passion for this game. I owe this game a lot. I just take one day at a time, and see how I feel.
MLB.com: What is more fun, being a player or manager?
Guillen: No doubt, being a player. Players have to worry about winning games, and how you contribute to win games and worry about yourself. Manager, you have to worry about a lot of things -- fans, owners, GMs, media, family, players, players' families, airplanes. I love this job. If you don't love this job, and you don't love managing or you don't love baseball, it would be tough to work in it. This job has more problems than satisfactions. The only satisfactions you have at the end of the day is when your team is shaking hands after [a win]. That's the only satisfaction, and when players have success. Besides that, it's not an easy job. It's very stressful. Very painful.
MLB.com: I've seen you interact with players, the fans, the people who sing the Star-Spangled Banner. You clearly have fun when you are on the field. Do the players have as much as they should on the field?
Guillen: I'd say 90 percent of the players don't have fun playing baseball. I guarantee you. Because most of the players look at this as a job. Of course it's our job. But in the meantime, I can walk away from this game saying I had more fun wearing this uniform. I never regretted not playing no more. Because of every day of my life I try to have fun.
That's why they call this "a game." This is a game, we get paid good money. The closer you get to the fans, the closer you get to the fans, I think fans need that.
I don't think the fans should have to feel separated from the players. I grew up in the old school baseball where everybody knew you by your number and not your name. Playing this game is a fun thing to do.