Updated: September 28, 2011 4:13PM
MIAMI — The Ozzie era has begun for the Florida Marlins.
Hours before the final game in the stadium they’re leaving, the Marlins formally introduced Ozzie Guillen as their manager for 2012.
“We’re very excited,” Guillen said at a stadium news conference Wednesday. “It’s a big, big step in my career, a new chapter. Hopefully I can bring energy, flavor and enthusiasm, but the most important thing is a winning team.”
The announcement carried little suspense. Guillen’s website leaked the news late Monday that he had agreed to become the Marlins’ manager, and he tweeted Tuesday that he was in Miami and “ready to go.”
The Marlins are staggering to a last-place finish in the NL East. With the team moving to a new ballpark and making a push to become a contender, owner Jeffrey Loria wanted an experienced manager.
“I’m very excited about the new park,” Guillen said. “It’s pretty nice — wow. I hope the fans will be excited about the new era for the Marlins. They should be excited. I want the fans to go there and say, ‘This is a beautiful ballpark, but let’s watch the guys play.’”
The Marlins are leaving the stadium where they’ve played since their first game in 1993, and will move into the new ballpark near downtown next spring as the Miami Marlins. Guillen’s news conference preceded a big ceremony in conjunction with the final game of the season Wednesday against the Washington Nationals.
“All the pieces are coming together,” slugger Mike Stanton said. “We got the stadium, and we got the manager.”
Guillen’s news conference drew a crowd to rival some Marlins games, with about 75 reporters, photographers and cameramen cramming into a room near the Marlins’ clubhouse. He’ll be Loria’s fourth skipper since early 2010.
Jack McKeon said Monday he planned to retire at the end of the season. Hours later, Guillen announced he was leaving the Chicago White Sox after eight seasons, including a run to the World Series title in 2005.
There had been speculation for more than a year that Guillen would be coming to Miami, which gets him closer to his native Venezuela. He worked for Loria as McKeon’s third base coach with the Marlins’ 2003 World Series championship team.
Guillen became the White Sox manager that November, and in eight seasons he had a record of 678-617. Only Jimmy Dykes and Al Lopez won more games with the franchise.
The White Sox were expected to contend for the AL Central title this year but struggled to their third sub-.500 finish under Guillen. It was a sometimes stormy tenure, and the outspoken Guillen’s relationship with Marlins management could create some off-the-field excitement.
Strong-willed Joe Girardi lasted only one season with Florida in 2006, clashed with Loria and others in the organization, and was fired shortly before being chosen NL Manager of the Year.