Miami Marlins fans were eagerly awaiting the response of manager Ozzie Guillen in the ongoing saga between him and reliever Heath Bell following Bell's inflammatory remarks on Guillen's straightforwardness and honesty with his players.
Well, Marlins fans did not have to wait long, as Guillen made comments both on the Dan LeBatard Show on 790 Ticket and in his pre-game media interviews. Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel has the quotes.
"I laughed," said Guillen, before Tuesday's game at Turner Field. "Comments like that, I don't lose sleep for that. Everybody has their own opinion. Everybody has a different way to look at stuff and I respect that. I make comments some people don't respect. That's why I have to respect everybody's opinions and comments.
"The thing that shocked me was if you say I'm not a good manager, I don't know how to handle a bullpen, I don't know how to treat players, I can buy that. When you say I'm not honest with players and I never tell the people in their face what I feel, uh, you have to put a lot of doubts on that one. That's the best thing and the worst thing I have in my life, not just baseball."
Now, as easy as it would likely be for Guillen to find himself a new job were he to be fired from this one, either in another dugout or in the announcer's booth, I am certain his primary goal was to keep hold of his job. So maybe in this case, he did not really go after Bell and instead played the whole situation off.
But wait, there's more.
Guillen said he has lost respect for Bell because the reliever has had issues this season with the team's trainers, catchers, pitching coach Randy St. Claire and the reality TV show, "The Franchise," which aired on Showtime.
"It was my turn this week," Guillen said. "Last week, it was somebody else. It was the pitching coach. The week before that, it was the catchers. The week before that, it was the scouting report. When you make all these things, they keep piling up. It was 'The Franchise.' All kinds of stuff.
"That's why I don't respect him as a person, because you have to have principles. You have to learn how to look yourself in the mirror and blame yourself. That's why, before anyone else blames me, I blame myself. When something goes wrong or something goes right, that's the way it is."
Boy, Ozzie, tell us how you really feel.
Guillen was probably incensed that Bell blamed him for being dishonest and unable to face others with his complaints when Bell himself has been throwing blame around left and right, especially in the media. That has to go over poorly with a guy who deems himself a straight shooter. With Guillen's job on the line, it may not have been a smart move to run down a player on his team, but since Bell started the conversation, I think Jeffrey Loria and company can give Guillen a pass.
As for Guillen's status with the team, Bell's comments may have been a blessing in disguise, as they mobilized a number of players to come out and support the embattled Marlins manager.
Veterans like Dobbs and John Buck personally spoke with Guillen. Justin Ruggiano, who is back in Miami undergoing an MRI on his right shoulder, reached out to the manager. And so did catcher Brett Hayes, who finished up the season at Triple-A New Orleans.
"Heath put himself in this mess," [Marlins starting pitcher Mark Buehrle] said. "I've never looked at Ozzie the way that he's saying. Everybody has got their own opinion. He obviously thinks that for some reason, and that's why he said it.
"You guys [beat reporters] know [Guillen]. He's face to face. Half the time he's too honest with people, so that gets him in trouble. Heath felt like he needed to comment on it."
It looks as though Guillen does indeed have a loyal set of players who have played for him, respect him, and are on his side. Supposedly he received support from "90 percent" of the team, so the Marlins at least seem like they are behind their manager after remaining relatively quiet during the controversy behind his job.
The Marlins seem to be supporting manager Ozzie Guillen. Let's see if Guillen's owner will support him after this season is over.