In a press conference Ozzie Guillen, the often controversial manager of the MLB's Miami Marlins, said he was misinterpreted, but still took full responsibility for comments he made about Fidel Castro and apologized for his admitted mistake.
Ozzie Guillen has been suspended by the Miami Marlins for five games for comments made about Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, the team announced Tuesday.
The suspension was handed down shortly before Guillen's remorseful statement at a press conference at Marlins Park. Guillen said Tuesday he is "very embarrassed, very sad" and hopes he can repair his relationship with Miami's Cuban community.
"I will do anything, and I'm willing to do everything to make it better," Guillen said. "I will help the community like I always do, and I hope I get better."
Guillen said making amends with the community is more important than the suspension. Still he will address the ball club Wednesday.
"The Marlins acknowledge the seriousness of the comments attributed to Guillen," the team said in a brief statement. "The apin and suffering caused by Fidel Castro cannot be minimized especially in a community filled with victims of the dictatorship."
Guillen said he let his team down. "I'll be there for them," he said of the team, "but I respect that decision. I will take that, whatever they want me to do."
About 20 protesters gathered outside the stadium Tuesday, holding signs calling Guillen a "jerk" and telling him to "go back to Venezuela." One protester shouted "If you love Castro, you'll love Cuba," in Spanish.
An interview published on Time Magazine's website this week quoted Guillen as saying, "I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that mother****** is still here."
Guillen apologized during the Marlins road trip in Cincinnati over the weekend, but that was not enough for one Cuban exile group that vowed to protest and boycott the Marlins until Guillen is no longer the team's manager.
Before Monday's game against the Phillies, a 6-2 win, Guillen said he had thought about it and decided he wanted to come to Miami and apologize in person during a break in the Marlin's three-game series against the Phillies.
"I feel sad and in a couple days I you know, stuck in my stomach, not because what I did, it just because I know I hurt a lot of people and I want to make it clear, especially for me," Guillen said. "I want to get the thing over with and I told the Marlins I want to fly as soon as I can and tomorrow is the day off, I don't do nothing in Philadelphia, I'd rather be in Miami, clear everything up."
The organization issued a statement shortly after Guillen's comments were made public, saying "there is nothing to respect about Fidel Castro."
"He is a brutal dictator who has caused unthinkable pain for more than 50 years," the team statement read. "We live in a community filled with victims of this dictatorship, and the people in Cuba continue to suffer today."
On Monday, local politicians, including Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, condemned Guillen's statement.
"For too long, the Marlins organization has been the source of controversies in our community and I now challenge them to take decisive steps to bring this community back together," Gimenez said.
Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Joe A. Martinez sent a letter to Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, calling the statements a "slap in the face of those who have fought oppression in this community and everywhere in the world."
He also urged Loria to call for Guillen's resignation.