Ozzie Guillen knows about managing difficult personalities. With the White Sox, he dealt with plenty of players stuck with the dreaded "clubhouse cancer" label, including Carl Everett, AJ Pierzynski and Manny Ramirez. All of them performed well for Guillen.
So Hanley Ramirez shouldn't be a problem at all, right Ozzie?
"Hanley Ramirez for me is just like LeBron James," Guillen said Monday. ¿Qué?
The key to this analogy, says Guillen, is that Ramirez used to be blamed for every Marlins problem in the past. Not anymore, though. "If something is wrong with the Heat, it’s LeBron’s fault. From now on, every time the Marlins lose it’s Oswaldo Guillen’s fault. It’s not the fault of any of the players."
So does this mean that Hanley isn't going bald like LeBron? It's hard to tell what's going on underneath his hat.
But beyond Ramirez being the face of failure in the Marlins clubhouse is the question of whether he will play the good soldier and move from shortstop to third base to accommodate new teammate Jose Reyes. Ramirez has said he will accept the switch and be "a new Hanley," but observers remain skeptical.
Guillen knows that he has a ways to go before he can say he has Ramirez fully on board. "Hanley? I don't think he's 100 percent on board. Not yet." But Guillen said he expects him to be a team player come Opening Day.
"It's about communication, respect and loyalty," he said of dealing with discontented stars. "We improved this ballclub to help you to win," Guillen said his message to Ramirez will be in Spring Training.
"We're going to treat Hanley with respect," Guillen added, "with love — with real love."
Will that be enough to sate Ramirez? Perhaps, but the real test will be whether Ramirez and the Marlins can perform well when the actual games start. Nothing builds team chemistry like winning. If Ramirez returns to form and the Marlins can stay at or near the top of the NL East, we suspect everything will be peachy in the Marlins clubhouse.
But if not, there will be plenty of fireworks on full display when Showtime films the team and airs The Franchise later this summer.