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Latin players excited about Gonzalez

The Marlins haven't had, for the most part, a Spanish speaking coach since Ozzie Guillen who left the team after the 2003 season.

Shortstop Hanley Ramirez hardly could contain his excitement when he learned that Fredi Gonzalez had been hired as the new manager of the Marlins.

Ramirez came to Dolphin Stadium on Tuesday and interrupted Gonzalez's interview session with reporters to offer his congratulations.

They spoke to each other in Spanish - something Ramirez and his Latin teammates weren't able to do this past season with former manager Joe Girardi and his coaching staff.


When the Marlins reported for spring training last February, there were whispers of discontent from Latin players about the lack of Spanish-speaking coaches on Girardi's staff.

It never festered into a problem, but Ramirez said Gonzalez will add a comfort level that had been lacking in 2006 for Spanish-speaking teammates such as Miguel Cabrera, Anibal Sanchez and Miguel Olivo, among others.


Gonzalez, who was the Atlanta Braves' third-base coach from 2003 through the 2006 season, said he will address his team in English.

"But when I'm talking to a particular player, like Miguel (Cabrera), Ramirez or Anibal Sanchez, I'll do it in Spanish," he said.


But even Ramirez conceded that baseball is a universal language.

"The signs aren't in English or Spanish," he said. "I don't worry about (language). It depends on his heart. So we're going to try to know him better."

The ability of the first language Spanish speaking players to converse with their manager in their native tongue can only be a good thing.  I remember reading a story after Jack wasn't rehired that Cabrera had no idea what the manager was saying to him.  This was probably due to a mixture of a language barrier and different generational speak.

Gonzalez shouldn't face that problem with the players.

Though it is possible the team won't have as many Latino players on the roster next season.  If the Marlins decide to dump some salary to make room for the increases due to the second year Rookies required pay increases and the expected increases to Willis and Cabrera, Olivo's name has been discussed as one of the players that could be showcasing his wares elsewhere.