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Ozzie Guillen apologizes to Miami, recants his love for Fidel Castro

Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen pitches during batting practice before spring training baseball game against New York Yankees Miami Monday

Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen pitches during batting practice before a spring training baseball game against the New York Yankees in Miami, Monday, April 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

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Updated: April 8, 2012 12:14AM

CINCINNATI — Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen apologized on Saturday for telling a magazine that he loves Fidel Castro, a comment that prompted the team to issue a statement denouncing the Cuban dictator.

Guillen told Time magazine that “I love Fidel Castro” and said he respects him for staying in power so long. When Guillen read his comments Friday, he said he felt sick because he knew how people would react.

Guillen called the team’s beat writers for a closed-door meeting before a game against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night and apologized.

“I will apologize if I hurt somebody’s feelings, or I hurt somebody’s thought,” Guillen told the writers. “I want them to know I’m against everything 100 percent — I repeat it again — the way this man [been] treating people for the last 60 years.”

In response to the magazine story, the Marlins released a statement saying, “There is nothing to respect about Fidel Castro.

“He is a brutal dictator who has caused unthinkable pain for more than 50 years. We live in a community filled with victims of this dictatorship, and the people in Cuba continue to suffer today.”

In the interview to appear in Monday’s editions of Time, Ozzie said, “I love Fidel Castro.” The magazine said the comment came while Ozzie was in his Jupiter, Fla., spring-training office in early-March team.

“During a typically stream-of-consciousness Ozzie oratory, he has covered some favorite topics, such as his passion for bullfighting (‘You’re giving the animal an opportunity to kill you’), disdain for sports shrinks (‘You’re 4 for 4, you don’t need psychology. You’re 0 for 4, you need a f------ guy to get you ready to play?’) and the benefits of brutal honesty (‘I told my wife, “I don’t like the perfume you’re wearing.” She was mad,’” a preview of the story on the magazine’s website states.

It’s not the first time Guillen, from Venezuela, has made a strong comment about a controversial leader. During his first news conference as Marlins manager in September, he bristled at a suggestion he supports Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

“Don’t tell my wife that, because she hates that man. She hates him to death,” Guillen said. “I supported Chavez? If I was supporting Chavez, do you think I would be manager of the Marlins? I never supported Chavez.”

Guillen said he has never spoken to Chavez, but in fact he appeared on the Venezuelan leader’s national radio show twice in October 2005, when Guillen led the Chicago White Sox to the World Series title. At the time, Guillen said: “Not too many people like the president. I do. My mom will kill me, but it’s an honor to talk to the president.”

Guillen became a U.S. citizen in 2006, and he has been more critical of Chavez in recent years.

“It’s not my fault Chavez is the president,” Guillen said. “I didn’t put him there. ... We got what we deserved.”

Contributing: Sun-Times staff

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