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Gonzalez making Friends at Third Base

Some of the Marlins are ready familiar with Gonzalez.

Miguel Cabrera would play third base for the Marlins. Fredi Gonzalez would stand a few yards away, coaching third base for the Atlanta Braves, cracking jokes and maintaining a running dialogue in Spanish both men greatly enjoyed.

Next year their working relationship will be even closer and far more regular.

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Besides backup catcher Matt Treanor, who attended big-league camp during Gonzalez's tenure, Cabrera is the only other Marlins player with a relationship with Gonzalez. But those who know the new manager's easygoing personality expect him to make rapid connections.

"Cabrera knows him and Miguel loves him," former catcher Eddie Perez, now an unofficial Braves coach, said recently. "Everybody on that team likes Fredi. He would fit very well with a young team. He would be accepted very well in Miami."

While the article is correct on a personal basis, still, there is at least one other Marlin who has had a conversation with Gonzalez.

Shortstop Hanley Ramirez, a strong Rookie of the Year candidate, said he wasn't even aware Gonzalez spoke Spanish until the first time the Marlins faced the Braves.

"I spoke to him between innings," Ramirez said. "The first time we played him, I didn't even know he spoke Spanish."

Ramirez remembers having a tough game where he struck out a few times before getting a hit. In Spanish, Gonzalez joked about Ramirez making contact. The two laughed.

Bobby Cox had this to say about him.

"Fredi's ready -- he's been ready," Cox said. "He's going to make a great manager. He's got everything. He knows the game inside out. Good communication. Handles people. Bright. Articulate. Just a high quality person."

Cox smiled.

"And he's got the tough streak, too, like most managers," he added. "Fredi's a very skilled teacher. It [will] be a huge loss for us."

Gonzalez appears to be well prepared for the job.  His references are above reproach.  He is, by all reports, very personable and knowledgeable.  I suspect that the players and the new manager will mostly likely take to one another.