Spring Swing: All eyes on Ozzie and the Marlins


JUPITER, Fla. — The Miami Marlins were scattered among the practice fields at Roger Dean Stadium when Ozzie Guillen made a joking announcement to no one in particular.

"[Bleep] it, let's all go home," said Guillen about an hour into Thursday morning's workout. "No one from the front office is here today."

The quip was hilarious, but also true. Jeffrey Loria, David Samson, Larry Beinfest and Michael Hill were nowhere to be found, leaving Guillen as the highest-ranking inmate at what everyone is expecting to be baseball's most entertaining asylum in 2012. If he wanted to give the signal for everyone to retreat to the pools of Palm Beach County for the afternoon, he could have. But plenty of people still would have noticed, because while the camp was short on suits, it was packed with national writer types. And not just from the usual touring troupe of baseball journalists, but guys with readerships consisting of more than just seamheads. Ben McGrath from The New Yorker was near the fence watching stretching exercises, Pat Jordan of the New York Times Sunday magazine was jockeying for a one-on-one with Ozzie after the practice and Sean Gregory from Time was asking one of Guillen's sons for a few minutes of his time near the clubhouse. Rounding out the crew was Sports Illustrated's Joe Lemire, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman and yours truly making for the biggest out-of-town contingent I'll likely see on this spring swing.

It was a scene that would have been hard to imagine just a year ago, but the additions of Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Carlos Zambrano and Heath Bell to an already studly core of talent tends to change things a bit. Hiring Guillen to oversee it all only increases the spotlight, and the new Marlins manager didn't disappoint during a post-workout media session. Over 10 minutes or so, Guillen claimed he was a better defensive shortstop than Reyes, stopped the interview to answer a phone call and chided big-league teams for not hiring away his coach/friend Joey Cora for a manager's gig.

Where all this goes is anyone's guess, but the chances of the Marlins making the postseason will increase with the official announcement of the added wild card in 2012. Guillen said he was in favor of the added chance for October, saying his team would like entry if they don't fulfill their lofty goal of breaking the Phillies' chokehold on the NL East title.

"I don't want to say we should [make the playoffs]," Guillen said. "I want to say we could."

More from my day with the fish below ...

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In addition to the surplus of scribes, Marlins camp was inundated with cameras from "The Franchise," the Showtime/MLB Productions joint that will follow the team all season. The show won't debut until July, but filming is already well underway with action being captured both on and off the field. The crews were scheduled to go bowling with the bullpen on Thursday night as well as spend some time near a pool with Giancarlo Stanton (formerly Mike) and Gaby Sanchez. It's not a job for the faint of heart, either. One cameraman collided with Logan Morrison during Thursday's workout. (Luckily everyone was fine.)

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How can this be my fifth stop on the spring swing tour but only my first funny rubber band workout picture? I still expect some sort of gruesome injury to occur every time I see this.

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Giancarlo Stanton says you can call him any of 25 or so names.

Just don't call him late for dinner.

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Bad third base! Bad! Hanley Ramirez has created plenty of headlines this offseason with his ever-evolving attitudes toward moving over to third base with the arrival of Jose Reyes. He, Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio appeared linked at the hips on Thursday and Guillen joked that he didn't hear any bellyaching from Hanley when the team went through relay drills that didn't require him to move.

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Carlos Zambrano and Mark Buehrle stand together on the surface of Bizarro World. Fellow Chicagoans will agree this is the weirdest picture I'll take all spring.

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Ron Hassey alert! I was a bit surprised to see the only catcher in history to catch two perfect games in Marlins camp, but it turns out that he's the new manager for Triple-A New Orleans. Seeing Ron was a reminder of one of my favorite truths about baseball: The best thing about old catchers is that they always look like old catchers (i.e., "The Bruce Bochy Corollary").

Spring training has started, so don't miss a beat ...
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