MIAMI (AP) - Fresh off a divorce in Chicago, Ozzie Guillen has been reunited with the Florida Marlins and owner Jeffrey Loria.
Guillen tends to speak his mind, while Loria leads the league in managerial changes, but both dismissed predictions about a rocky relationship as way off base.
“When we used to go to the winter meetings together, people went, ‘That’s a crazy combo,’” Guillen said. “But we know each other.”
So there’s no reason to anticipate Guillen ruffling feathers?
“I couldn’t care less about feathers,” Loria said. “I don’t have any feathers. And I don’t care about him ruffling anybody. Ozzie has his opinions, and he’s entitled to them. You know that going in. But Ozzie comes with a great pedigree.”
And so the Ozzie era began in Miami. Hours before the Marlins’ final game in the stadium they’re leaving, they formally introduced Guillen as their manager Wednesday.
“It’s a big, big step in my career, a new chapter,” Guillen said. “Hopefully I can bring energy, flavor and enthusiasm, but the most important thing is a winning team.”
The announcement carried little suspense. Shortly after Guillen resigned Monday as the manager of the White Sox, his website leaked the news that he had agreed to become the Marlins’ manager. He agreed Tuesday night to a four-year contract and succeeds 80-year-old Jack McKeon, who is beginning his latest retirement.
The Marlins are staggering to a last-place finish in the NL East. With the team moving to a new ballpark and making a push for more fans and more wins, Loria wanted an experienced manager.
He turned to one of the game’s most captivating but unpredictable personalities.
“I think we can turn it around next year,” Loria said. “When you have a _ for lack of a better word _ category five manager, it’s going to happen.”
The two first met more than 20 years ago at a game in which Guillen played.
“I was sitting in the first row,” Loria said, “and he came over to me and started talking, and talking, and talking. And the umpire had to come over and say to him, `Mr. Guillen, you’re up.’”
After Guillen retired and returned home to Venezuela, Loria coaxed him back into baseball as a coach. Guillen was McKeon’s third base coach with the Marlins’ 2003 World Series championship team, then became the White Sox manager that November.
Guillen led the White Sox to the 2005 World Series title, but his eight-year tenure in Chicago was often stormy and his departure was messy.