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Suspended Marlins manager back today

Guillen

– Miami Marlins broadcaster Cookie Rojas is a baseball lifer who has seen Ozzie Guillen backpedal before from outlandish statements that provoked outrage.

Last week’s emotional apology by Guillen was different, Rojas says.

“I’ll tell you something about Ozzie,” Rojas says. “As long as I’ve known him, he never before felt sorry saying, ‘Please forgive me.’ This is the first time really that he had to admit he was wrong and made a mistake.

“Let’s get over with it and play ball.”

While the Havana-born Rojas is ready to move on, other Cuban Americans may not be. The extent of lingering acrimony toward Guillen can be gauged today, when the Marlins manager returns from a five-game suspension.

The team imposed the punishment after comments by Guillen praising Fidel Castro angered South Florida’s Cuban exiles, who happen to make up a large chunk of the Marlins’ fan base. The team’s new ballpark is located in a neighborhood near downtown known as Little Havana.

The Marlins will be braced for possible group protests today, but there were none over the weekend.

Guillen has a history of profane, polarizing comments on myriad subjects, but nothing he said previously triggered such a backlash.

Guillen apologized at a news conference last week, while about 100 people protested on the ballpark plaza and demanded his dismissal.

Tony Perez, a Marlins executive and native of Cuba, said Guillen’s news conference helped soothe wounded feelings. But he said some considered the suspension insufficient punishment.

“People want to get Ozzie fired,” Perez said. “A lot of people think five days is not enough.

“Everybody knows he did wrong. That’s why he tried to apologize to the people face to face. I think that’s one thing in his favor. He didn’t hide. He came and faced everybody. That was a good move.

“A lot of people believe him. A lot of people don’t, and I don’t blame them, because a lot of people here have been hurt by Castro for more than 50 years. When something like that comes up, with the new stadium opening right here in Little Havana, that’s something people don’t forget. We have to live with that and see if people will forget.”

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