Miami–Miami Marlins’ interim manager Joey Cora was focused on Sunday’s series finale against Houston, but he took a few minutes to fast forward to Tuesday during his pre-game briefing with reporters at Marlins Park.
A few hours prior to the start of the matinee attraction between the Marlins and Astros, Cora addressed many issues, among them the return of Ozzie Guillen to the dugout for the April 17 series opener against Chicago in the Magic City.
Asked about Guillen’s return to the Little Havana neighborhood and its affect on the team, which had anything but a normal first week to its season with three Opening Day involvements and the controversy over the skipper’s Fidel Castro comments, Cora addressed the issue head-on.
“On Tuesday, it’s going to be an interesting day when (Ozzie) comes back. No doubt about it,” Cora said while sitting in the dugout on Sunday morning with the roof closed and preparations continuing for a soon-to-be-arriving crowd of more than 34,000.
“Obviously, we miss him. He’s our leader. He’s our manager; he’s the one in charge,” Cora continued.
Managing the last of five games during Guillen’s suspension, Cora emphasized that the return of the team’s regular manager would have no impact on the Marlins’ play between the chalk lines on Tuesday or any other game day.
“As far as playing the game, I don’t think it has affected the players. They go out and play and don’t worry about what happens off the field,” Cora said.
Cora knows that once again the national press will be spotlighting the Marlins on Tuesday, but unlike the situation on April 4 when the National League team was debuting its new ballpark, this time the attention will be on something not quite as pleasant.
Still, Cora said the players’ focus needs to be on their responsibilities and their opponent.
“On Tuesday, obviously it’s going to be a little bit different because we expect a lot more media. But it’s going to be what it’s going to be. Our main concern is to go out and play the game and win against the Cubs.”
It’s been a seesaw swing of emotions for the Marlins in their first 10 games (4-6). In addition to opening their ballpark and two others, The Fish have experienced two heartbreaking losses, two thrilling extra-inning wins, the much-anticipated lighting up (twice) of the home run sculpture on Sunday and the sideshow of Guillen’s plight.
Omar Infante has been terrific, and Heath Bell has admittedly been a disappointment, but through it all the Marlins have battled and remain upbeat as they start a three-game set with the Cubs on Tuesday.