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Marlins fire manager Ozzie Guillen

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Marlins fire manager Ozzie Guillen

By STEVEN WINE, AP Sports Writer

MIAMI (AP) -- Ozzie Guillen was fired Tuesday after one year as manager of the last-place Miami Marlins, whose promising season began to derail in April when his laudatory comments about Fidel Castro caused a backlash.

Miami's next manager will be the fifth for owner Jeffrey Loria since early 2010. Two managers he fired made the playoffs this year. The Marlins still owe Guillen $7.5 million for the three years remaining on his contract.

"After careful consideration following the disappointment of the 2012 season, we decided to dismiss Ozzie," president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said in a statement. "Our managerial search begins immediately and our hope is that a new manager, along with roster improvements, will restore a winning culture."

The franchise was supposedly transformed by an offseason spending spree and the move into a new ballpark, and the Marlins expected to contend for a playoff berth.

In spring training, Guillen touted his team as well balanced and ready to win. But a dismal June took the Marlins out of contention for good, and management dismantled the roster in July.

The season went sour from the start. Guillen's comments praising Castro in a magazine interview angered Cuban Americans, who make up a large segment of the Marlins' fan base. The Venezuelan manager apologized repeatedly at a news conference for his remarks about the former Cuban leader. Guillen then began a five-game suspension only five games into his stay with the team.

"That was a very, very hard situation for me and the people around me," Guillen said in September. "It was maybe the worst thing I ever did."

In September 2011, Guillen left the Chicago White Sox after eight seasons. Some 24 hours later he sealed a four-year deal with the Marlins, where he was a third-base coach for the 2003 World Series championship team.

"I feel like I'm back home," he said at the time.

Loria traded two minor league players to obtain Guillen and gave him a team-record $10 million, four-year deal.

But by June, the Marlins had fallen below .500 for good. Despite the frustrations of losing, the talkative, opinionated, profane Guillen kept his cool for the most part, and he repeatedly accepted responsibility for the team's performance.

Mindful of speculation his job might be in jeopardy, he said two weeks before the end of the season he was glad he rented a house in Miami rather than buying when he took the job.

"With the job I did this year, do you think I deserve to be back here?" Guillen said on the final day of the season. "Of course not. But I'm not the only one. ... Let's start from the top. The front office failed, Ozzie failed, the coaching staff failed, the players failed, everybody failed."

In December, the Marlins signed All-Stars Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell to contracts worth a combined $191 million. But Bell was a bust as the closer, and the Marlins were plagued by poor hitting, especially in the clutch. Bell was traded last week to Arizona.

In the Marlins' 20 seasons they have reached the postseason only twice, as wild-card teams in 1997 and 2003. Both times they won the World Series.

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Jayson Werth out of Nats lineup as they host Marlins

Jayson Werth out of Nats lineup as they host Marlins

Nats (93-67) vs. Miami Marlins (79-80) at Nationals Park

Jayson Werth is out of the Nationals' lineup as they continue their series against the Miami Marlins on Saturday, as the veteran outfielder is nursing back tightness that he suffered in Friday night's loss. Manager Dusty Baker said it was a precaution to keep him out, that they are not worried the injury will persist.

In Werth's place playing left field is Michael Taylor. Ryan Zimmerman is back in the lineup after taking Friday night off. They will play behind Tanner Roark (15-10, 2.86), who will be pitching his final tuneup before the playoffs begin.

Roark has had some trouble with Miami this season. He's 1-4 with a 5.02 ERA against them. Roark was good, however, just two starts ago in Miami when he tossed seven innings of one-run ball.

First pitch: 4:05 p.m.
TV: MASN2
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - Tanner Roark vs. Miami Marlins - Wei-Yin Chen

NATS 

CF Trea Turner
LF Michael Taylor
RF Bryce Harper
3B Anthony Rendon
1B Ryan Zimmerman
2B Wilmer Difo
C Pedro Severino
SS Danny Espinosa
RHP Tanner Roark

MARLINS

2B Derek Dietrich
SS Miguel Rojas
CF Christian Yelich
1B Justin Bour
RF Jeff Francoeur
3B Chris Johnson
LF Destin Hood
C Jeff Mathis
LHP Wei-Yin Chen

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Nats weigh home field advantage against staying healthy as playoffs near

Nats weigh home field advantage against staying healthy as playoffs near

Though they’re still fighting for home field advantage in next week’s division series, the Nationals understand they’re in a strange part of their season.  

Sure, playoff seeding is plenty important. These last regular season games count, et cetera et cetera. But Washington already clinched the NL East title, and already knows its playoff opponent is going to be the Los Angeles Dodgers. So it’s not a surprise that players are willing to admit how difficult it can be to keep their foot on the gas pedal these days.

“Once you win the division, there’s that exhale, that sigh of relief,” said Jayson Werth after Friday night’s 7-4 loss to the Miami Marlins.”..You kind of let off the throttle a little bit.”

And when a team takes that approach, health becomes the top priority. It’s a mindset that was on full display Friday night when Werth was removed from the game in the seventh inning as a precaution due to back and side tightness.

 “We can't afford to lose anybody else,” manager Dusty Baker said. “So we decided that, it was wet, on the chilly side, and I decided I couldn't take a chance on him being injured too.”

Werth said that team trainers ruled out a strain or a pull, and that he’d be surprised if he wasn’t in the lineup on Saturday afternoon.  

Still, any injury the Nats suffer this time of the year feels magnified, especially given the last week: Bryce Harper jammed his left thumb, Wilson Ramos tore his ACL and Daniel Murphy was shut down until the playoffs with a glute strain. Not to mention that Stephen Strasburg will likely miss the club’s entire October run.

“The biggest thing is right now is to get everybody healthy for the postseason,” Stephen Drew said. “I think that's key. We got some guys out and hopefully we'll be ready for the playoffs.”

So while every team says it’d like to head into the postseason firing on all cylinders, the Nats’ case shows that it’s not always realistic. Bottling up momentum and carrying into the biggest games of the year is the ideal, of course. But sometimes heading into the tournament with all your horses in tact works too — seeding be damned.

“Obviously home field advantage is important to us, and we want that,” Werth said. “But at the same time, we also feel like we’ve done our job a little bit. So there’s a balance there.....you don’t want to do something where you can put yourself in jeopardy, where you can really get hurt.”