Loria, meanwhile, has gone through a succession of managers trying in vain to return to the playoffs. Strong-willed Joe Girardi lasted only one season in 2006, clashed with Loria and others in the organization, and was fired shortly before being chosen NL Manager of the Year.
Guillen will be Loria’s fourth skipper since early 2010. Guillen said he hates being second-guessed and knows how to discourage Loria from doing so, since the owner’s box is next to the Marlins’ dugout.
“I will ask, `What would you do right now?’ before the fact,” Guillen said. “I’ll say, `Hey, I’m going to make a move. What do you think?’ See what he says. He won’t know what to say.”
But Loria said he’ll continue to be a hands-on owner.
“I’m involved,” he said. “I do care. I want to see the fans in this community have a ballclub commensurate with the new stadium. I don’t think you can say being involved is a bad thing. In 2003 I put my foot down and said, `We need a catcher here, and we’re going to sign Pudge Rodriguez.’ Well, I guess that worked out.”
Aside from satisfying the boss, the biggest challenge for Guillen may be to tap the full potential of 2009 NL batting champion Hanley Ramirez, whose effort and attitude have frequently been questioned. Ramirez endured a disappointing, injury-plagued season.
“One thing I guarantee you _ he will be back where he was,” Guillen said. “Hanley is the biggest piece of the puzzle in this organization, and I’ve got to make it work. You are going to see a different guy on the field. I guarantee you when you see Hanley in spring training, he is going to have a smile.”
Ramirez said that sounded good to him.
“Whatever Ozzie brings to make me better is good for me,” Ramirez said. “I still have a lot to prove in this game. He’s going to help me tremendously.”
The whirlwind sequence of events that took Guillen from Chicago to Miami left his former team a little stunned, White Sox shortstop Omar Vizquel said.
“I don’t think he really had time to say bye to everybody the right way,” Vizquel said. “I wish he could have had more time to sit down with the players and explaining why. We wish he could have left a little differently, especially the career he had here in Chicago. It was important for this city to give him a nice goodbye. It was kind of sad the way he left.”
Speculation has already started about which of Guillen’s former players might follow him to Miami. His coaching staff will include Joey Cora, who was the White Sox bench coach. Eduardo Perez will remain as hitting coach, and Randy St. Claire will continue as pitching coach.
The Marlins are leaving the stadium where they’ve played since their first game in 1993, and will move into the new ballpark near downtown next spring as the Miami Marlins. Guillen’s news conference preceded a big ceremony in conjunction with the final game against the Washington Nationals.
“I’m very excited about the new park,” Guillen said. “It’s pretty nice _ wow. I hope the fans will be excited about the new era for the Marlins. They should be excited. I want the fans to go there and say, `This is a beautiful ballpark, but let’s watch the guys play.’”