Marlins eye 'business as usual' as Ozzie returns
Despite extra media attention, club eager to be 'whole' again
MIAMI -- The Marlins will soon be whole again.
After missing the past five games, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen will rejoin his team on Tuesday in the series opener against the Cubs. The organization suspended Guillen for five games due to comments he made to Time magazine about Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
"It will be nice to have him back and for us to be whole," Marlins catcher John Buck said. "Somebody in the family is not here. It will be good to have him back and know that he's among us. If you're a coach, player, manager, and you're away, it does not feel right when you're not with the team. I think it will be good for him and his family."
Bench coach Joey Cora was the acting manager in Guillen's absence. Miami went 2-3 during the suspension, and a couple of the losses were close ones. Cora, who spoke with Guillen daily during the suspension, says the manager suffered just as much as the team did during those games.
"He's away looking at the games on TV, and that's tough," Cora said. "He wants to be here. He wants to go through it with us. That makes it even tougher for him, but he'll be here soon enough. He'll be here Tuesday, and that should be interesting."
While Guillen certainly missed being at the ballpark, Cora and the Marlins have also missed their manager over the past few days.
"We miss him," Cora said. "He's our leader. He's our manager and he's the one in charge."
A team without its leader could easily struggle like Miami has without Guillen. But Buck feels the Marlins may have been affected even more if they had lost their manager later in the season when they could be fighting for a playoff spot.
"It's very early in the year," Buck said. "I think we're lucky that it happened now rather than later. It might mean a little more if it happened later in the year. He prepared us for the first couple of weeks of the season."
Some may point to Guillen's absence as a reason for the Marlins' poor record over the course of the suspension. But Buck insists the team's poor performance had nothing to do with how Cora was running the team.
"I think if you ask anybody in here, they'd tell you that Joey would be an amazing manager," Buck said. "I'm not the only player or coach in baseball that's said that. He has an amazing baseball mind and knows the game very well."
Cora expects Tuesday to be a bit different. The former big league infielder expects a lot of media attention surrounding Guillen's return, but he hopes it will not affect the players.
"Our main concern is to play the game and try to win that game against the Cubs," Cora said. "That's been our motto the whole time. Go out there and play hard and win games. Whatever happens, happens."
Buck believes Guillen's return will bring a sense of normalcy to the clubhouse. The 31-year-old catcher also thinks Guillen might bring a spark that could get the Marlins going again.
"I think it will be business as usual," Buck said. "There's a reason that he's a Major League manager. He's had success and he has a way of getting players to find the little extra whatever that's in them."
The players and coaches are not the only ones looking forward to Guillen's return. Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is happy the team can move forward with its manager at the helm again.
"He made a mistake and he's paid for it," Loria said. "I know Ozzie very well. He's a very decent person and a very honest person. He came down here and faced the music. Now it's time to move forward."
David Villavicencio is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.