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The Miami Marlins will get their outspoken manager Ozzie Guillen back from suspension on Tuesday, and are bracing for protests as they face the Chicago Cubs at Marlins Park in Little Havana.
Guillen had served the suspension for his comments regarding Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. ""I respect Fidel Castro," he said. "You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that mother****** is still here."
Last week, Guillen flew to Miami while his team was on a road trip to apologize to the Cuban American community, calling his comments "the biggest mistake of my life."
The Marlins went 2-3 while Guillen was suspended, with bench coach Joey Cora serving as interim manager. The team seems ready for their skipper to return and put the entire scandal behind them.
"We know Tuesday is going to be a little bit different, but hopefully after Tuesday we expect everything to get back to normal," Cora said.
"He couldn't sleep for days because of this," said first baseman Gaby Sanchez, whose parents are Cuban exiles. "It stinks, because he is a good person."
While the Marlins are ready to move forward, it is not clear whether the surrounding community feels the same way.
A large crowd protested at Marlins Park during Guillen's apology press conference last week, but the Marlins have yet to see much more heat because of Guillen. During a weekend series against Houston, the team announced attendance of over 30,000 fans for all three games, and there were no protests at the stadium.
That could change Tuesday, but the Marlins will not know the extent of any opposition until pretty close to game time at 7:05 pm.
Marlins executive, native Cuban, and baseball Hall of Famer Tony Perez said Tuesday "People want to get Ozzie fired. A lot of people think five days is not enough.
"Everybody knows he did wrong. That's why he tried to apologize to the people face to face. I think that's one thing in his favor. He didn't hide. He came and faced everybody. That was a good move.
"A lot of people believe him. A lot of people don't, and I don't blame them, because a lot of people here have been hurt by Castro for more than 50 years. When something like that comes up, with the new stadium opening right here in Little Havana, that's something people don't forget. We have to live with that and see if people will forget."