Braves’ Cuban-born Gonzalez surprised by Guillen comments

HOUSTON – Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, born in Havana and raised in Miami, was as surprised as anyone by Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen’s comments expressing admiration for Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Gonzalez knew the quotes, published in Time magazine, would put Guillen at the center of a firestorm of controversy and anger in South Florida’s large Cuban-American community, and they have.

Guillen was suspended for five games Tuesday by the Marlins and had a nationally televised news conference in which he explained his comments and apologized repeatedly, calling it the worst mistake he had made.

The former shortstop – he played for four teams including the Braves in 1998-1999 — said he had meant only to express surprise that Castro was still in power, although he was quoted saying “I love Fidel Castro.”

“I’m surprised that him being down there for so long, that he took that that lightly,” Gonzalez said of Guillen, who is Venezuelan and has lived for many years in Miami, where anti-Castro sentiment runs deep among Cuban exiles and their families.

“I have an uncle and a grandma that are still down there [in Cuba],” Gonzalez said. “I was born there and came [to Miami] when I was real young, and my mom and dad … take that pretty seriously. Those type of comments. When you’re dealing with that type of dictatorship, those leaderships….”

Gonzalez said he called his father in Miami on Wednesday and discussed the situation.

“He said, ‘Stay out of it,’” Gonzalez said of his father’s advice. “He goes, ‘Don’t touch that.’ But you feel like you’ve got to say something.”

Gonzalez said he watched Guillen’s press conference Wednesday morning. The normally brash and outspoken Marlins manager appeared contrite and shaken by the ordeal, which might not end with the suspension if Cuban-American leaders in Miami continue to ask that he be fired.

“I think he’s feeling it,” Gonzalez said. “And it’ll take a while to earn the trust of the people down there, and for them to forget and forgive. You could tell that press conference was hard on him. More than any suspension or fine or whatever they could do to him….

“Here’s a guy that came out and faced the music. It’s going to take a while, but hopefully he can win those people back.”

34 comments Add your comment

Blog comments are retarded

April 10th, 2012
7:40 pm

OMG, First?!

Blog comments are retarded

April 10th, 2012
7:41 pm

*kneels and ‘Tebows’* I’m going to retire right now. Finally, I arrived. Who needs mega millions.


April 10th, 2012
7:46 pm

“Blog Comments,” get a life. Why would anyone get that excited about being “first?” In Breaking News, Petrino got fired! Ha. What goes around comes around.

Hetch Hetchy

April 10th, 2012
7:46 pm

One good thing that may come from this will be a new awareness of what is actually going on in Cuba. I, for one, would like to see more information on Castro’s atrocities.

Guillermo Del Taco

April 10th, 2012
7:53 pm

I find it interesting that everyone is so “surprised” that Ozzie Guillen continues to say moronic, inflammatory things. His track record speaks for itself.

Let’s just say I’m not surprised that Fredi’s surprised. Also, Fredi, quit commenting on other managerial/coach controversies, and work on your day job…


April 10th, 2012
7:54 pm

Yea, those people who were interviewed on a news program a while back (it might have been 60 minutes) were afraid to talk on TV.

I wish the Cuban people would have the opportunity to have a choice, but they are not even allowed internet or social media, that SOB restricts them so much.

I would love to see someone like Oliver Stone or Sean Penn live under that #$@%. I despise white liberals of privilidge who tout how wnderful guys like Castro and Chavez are.

I do hope it can work for Guillen over there, but he did praise Castro once before when he was mgr in Chicago. I don’t know how long he will last in Miami.


April 10th, 2012
7:59 pm

Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie….. It could have only been worse had he been standing in the middle of Jerusalem and said that he “loved Hitler, he was a great military leader.” All in Marlins management must have bloody patches on their heads from tearing their hair out for the past 4 days.


April 10th, 2012
8:14 pm

Fish knew what they were getting ..that nut will say anything and hates USA. Fire his A@@ and send him to Castro and chavez.


April 10th, 2012
8:19 pm

Re Guillen/Castro remarks situation: It is my understanding that the interview was in Spanish and then translated into English. My experience has been that translations I have heard (movies, TV, news, etc.), even including courtroom translations (which are supposed to be flawless), have been quite poor, with nuances and subtleties of meaning and intonation often lost – especially with words that have connotations, but are translated rather literally and simplistically.

Reid in EAV

April 10th, 2012
8:25 pm

Guillen is an intemperate, loose cannon, who nonetheless can motivate players, at least for the short term. (I liken him to Billy Martin in that way.) So I didn’t find this to be news at all. It’s just part of the package.

Mark (another one)

April 10th, 2012
8:34 pm

I read Gonzales comments and see disagreement but also the possibility for redemption. That is the American way and I applaud Gonzales for it. Guillen needs to continue his course. Maybe asking the Cubans of south Florida to help educate him on the ordeals their families have endured. It sounds like he is taking responsibility for his comments as a man.

Cap: Where's My Tip

April 10th, 2012
8:34 pm

just what Miami front office wanted to see, Ozzie attempting to alienate a (majority?) portion of the fanbase … and in the first season of their new stadium when they’d like to see fans filing the stadium; that’s why I’m surprised they suspended him for just 5 games.

GT Alum

April 10th, 2012
8:36 pm

Texasrose -

Guillen said he spoke in English but his English words didn’t express what he was thinking.

It’s hard to accept that it was amistake since Guillen has a history of making offensive comments, though. Oz, if you’re really contrite, start using your brain before you open your mouth.


April 10th, 2012
8:58 pm

those people who always rant on and on about fredi gonzalez’s managing style, just be glad we don’t have this bat in our dugout each night


April 10th, 2012
9:58 pm

unbelievable? I don’t think so it’s ozzie, beside who cares we got our own problems to worry about with our non-improving braves I still in shock that we did not make any moves where is Ted Turner these days please come back oh yeah did everyone hear about bobby pettrino good for that jack ass, he deserved to get fire, what a woose

on the fence

April 10th, 2012
10:03 pm

I’d trade Gonzalez for Guillen any day.


April 10th, 2012
10:04 pm

Ozzie’s Notorious Big-mouth antics are Finally being …Paid back to him, consequences for Blurting out Without Thinking. This one was something he really screwed up. Being from Venezuela is no excuse. Ozzie blames it on the translation… difficult to prove.


April 10th, 2012
10:14 pm

Fence Rider: Ozzie Guillan has Won How Many World Series ?? NONE, and you think his still of running a ball-team like a Bull in a China-shop is an improvement over Gonzalez – How ??? Fredi has a good philosophy, he just needs to exercise his player options to win those close ballgames instead of Praying for God to deliver a homerun.


April 10th, 2012
10:43 pm

You should never argue with an idiot….you may be mistaken for the idiot!!!!


April 10th, 2012
11:06 pm

Ozzie won WS with White Sox in 2005.


April 10th, 2012
11:15 pm

From miami and Cuban, the guy finally put his own foot in his mouth and choked on it. The guy could have said it in any other southern state, but he said it in miami, Florida where the majority of the people that live around the new stadium are all Cuban. He will get fired because Cubans won’t go to the games. Stupid hothead. That’s like the coach of the Yankees saying he loves terrorist, I love how they’ve stayed in power for so long.

BravesFan in DC

April 11th, 2012
12:00 am

Ozzie is an idiot. He knows baseball but he’s more familiar with idiocracy. He will (and should) eventually be fired.

P. Bull Terrier

April 11th, 2012
3:55 am

The Marlins knew when they hired him that it was only a matter of time before Guillen said something dumb. That’s just what he does. On the other hand, he’s also a pretty good manager.

The Marlins suspending Gullien for making dumb remarks is, well, dumb. That is like San Fransisco hiring John Rocker and then pretending to be upset when he rides up and down the streets in his monster truck yelling at all of the gays.

This stuff isn;t hard to figure out long before the first public apology press conference.


April 11th, 2012
11:20 am

ozzie meant it or he would not have said it . he only apologized when he was called on it. fire him now!!!!!!!!!!!

Pelu Maad

April 11th, 2012
11:50 am

I wonder if the Marlins are missing the black neighborhood they used to play in now that they’re being blackmailed by the Cuban exiles surrounding their new stadium? Appeasing the exiles will turn off at least as many Broward and Palm Beach fans as demonstrations outside the stadium would have. How much longer will South Florida be held hostage by the Castro-hating obsessions of an insulated, clannish bunch who’d rather not even be here? This is America…where Ozzie is free to think and speak as he pleases. This crap must STOP.

Pelu Maad

April 11th, 2012
12:01 pm

Zom Bie… many poor Little Havana Cubans will be going to games? The Marlins have screwed up bigtime. Broward and Palm Beach were already not happy about having to travel even further than Joe Robie (or whatever it’s called this week). Nothing turns off non-Cuban South Floridians more than the exile community’s rather pointless Castro hating. The first two weeks of this season were nice…but it’s all over now.

John A.

April 11th, 2012
12:19 pm

I remember when the Cuban people were sold out by the Kennedy administration. President Kennedy stood in the “Orange Bowl” and promised the Cuban people if the invaded Cuba they would be backed by the United States. When they invaded….the Kennedy administration turned its back on them. It was called “The Bay of Pigs”, and the American people should NEVER FORGET I am sorry Ozzie has gotten himself in so much trouble, but when you are a loose cannon these type of things happen. In actuality the US is to blame for Castro being in power…..the Eisenhower administration back Castro is his take over. POOR JUDGEMENT!!!!!

Richard Esposito

April 11th, 2012
12:44 pm

Ozzie must go. He will no recover from this at all. These are proud people, proud to be in the US and proud of their heritage. They came here with “Nothing” and made a life for themselves. They hate Castro and every thing he stands for and now the manager of the team that is representing them, the people of Miami, says such nonsense. I am not Cuban and I would not attend a game as long as he is the manager.

Jonas Brother James

April 11th, 2012
12:48 pm

Ozzie is an outspoken person and has been known to say some idiotic things. I however believe that he is being honest in his apology. I believe that he really was thinking something in Spanish and the words came out wrong in English. Ozzie may have a tendency to say stupid things, but he also is an upfront and good person. Hopefully the Marlins will give him a second chance to redeem himself and hopefully the Cuban-American community will forgive him. I do NOT believe that he had any malicious intent in the interview at all and does not in any way respect Castro.

Bay Of Pigs

April 11th, 2012
12:58 pm

My friends in Miami want to throw Ozzie into Biscayne Bay and rename it the “Bay Of Pigs”!


April 11th, 2012
4:59 pm

I do not agree with his comment , but , this is America and I thought everyone had a right to speak his or her mind .Remember freedom of speech .

billy bob ball

April 11th, 2012
6:27 pm

Pelu Maad, good comments and entirely correct. “Blackmail” “held hostage” are entirely appropriate terms to describe the undue influence that the Cubans of Miami hold over the entire state, and to some extent the nation, since FL is such a pivotal electoral state. They don’t even consider themselves “Cuban-American” but just Cuban, and god help anyone who dares to express any sentiment other than abject hatred for the Cuban government.


April 12th, 2012
9:55 am

What happened to free speech? Is this not America?

Mike Mackas

April 12th, 2012
12:22 pm

The guy’s a liability for any club and talks way too much. Manage maybe?

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