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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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Nationals sign former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

Nationals sign former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

The Washington Nationals have signed former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters to a one-year deal with a player option for a second year, according to multiple reports. 

Wieters spent the first eight years in the Majors with the Baltimore Orioles, being named to the AL All-Star team four times and winning two gold glove awards. Last season the switch-hitting catcher posted a .243 average with 17 homers and 66 RBI.  

The Nationals have been in the market for catchers all offseason after Wilson Ramos left for Tampa Bay in free agency. The team traded for former Padres catcher Derek Norris, whose role is now in question. The Nationals still have Jose Lobaton on the roster as a strong defensive backup catcher who has a proven rapport with many of the pitchers in the Nationals rotation. Wieters had been linked to the Nationals all offseason because of the team's need a the position and because of the Nationals close relationship with Wieters' agent Scott Boras. 

The only significant time that Wieters has missed due to injury in his career came in 2014-15 when he had Tommy John surgury. Prior to that surgury, however, Wieters had played in at least 130 games for four straight seasons and became a large part of the Orioles' identity. 

The 30-year-old backstop will give the Nationals lineup more depth and power. Wieters had three consecutive 20-homer seasons from 2011-13 and since 2009 when his career began, he ranks fifth among catchers in all of baseball in home runs with 117. 

Related: Nationals 2017 promotional schedule includes snow globes and fedoras

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Nationals 2017 promotional giveaways include snow globes and fedoras

Nationals 2017 promotional giveaways include snow globes and fedoras

The Washington Nationals recently released the dates of their promotional days and giveaways this season, and there are some real gems in this schedule.

Among the standard bobblehead giveaways — Daniel Murphy on April 14, Trea Turner on May 12 and Tanner Roark on June 9 — and the highly recommended Pups in the Park days — April 29, May 13, June 10, June 25, September 7 and September 30 — pick the right game and you could get a snow globe, an American flag shirt or even a fedora. Seriously.

On May 24’s game against the Mariners, the first 25,000 fans will get a Max Scherzer snow globe, which has the potential to be the coolest knickknack in your house. Or on June 14 against the Braves — oddly not closer to the Fourth of July — Budweiser is behind the first 15,000 21-and-up fans getting an American flag tank top.

But truly the most unique item on this list is the Nationals-themed fedora, which will go to the first 25,000 fans at the Brewers’ July 26 matchup. How the Nats landed on this promotional item remains a mystery, but if you like hats beyond a traditional baseball cap, this is the game to attend.

Other cool or oddball promotions include the Nats Magic 8-Ball game April 3, the Chewbacca Koozie day May 27, Bryce Harper action figure day August 29 and Oktoberfest beer stein day Sept. 29.

Here's the complete list of the team's promotional days and giveaways

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