Ozzie fires back at notion team isn’t playing hard

MIAMI — Ozzie Guillen is the first to accept the blame for the Marlins’ last-place record. He’s never shied away from the criticism, or ducked questions regarding his future.

But Guillen emphatically will defend the effort his team is giving, and the fiery manager takes issue with any insinuation that his players have stopped trying.

After Friday night’s 4-0 win over the Reds, Guillen took aim on Twitter at ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Guillen’s response had some misspellings and foul language, but the point was clear.

The manager called out Olney by name, and said the veteran reporter made “stupid comments about the Miami team.” The Tweet noted the Marlins may not be winning, but they “play hard.”

“If u say I am bad manager is ok,” Guillen added, taking issue at the idea the team has given up.

Via Twitter, Olney responded: “Context on the Ozzie Guillen comments: In two articles, I referenced the opinion of rival evaluators on the Marlins’ recent play.”

Before Saturday’s game against the Reds, Guillen went into more detail on the matter.

First, the manager noted his job could be in jeopardy, which is natural when a team is in last place.

“Of course your name is going to be mentioned to be fired,” Guillen said. “When you play bad, your name is going to be mentioned to be fired. But when you make a comment that your team don’t play hard enough, you’re not watching us. You’re not. Because first of all, there are only two players in our lineup right now that have sure, for sure, for sure jobs for next year. Guaranteed. Only two.”

Only Jose Reyes and Giancarlo Stanton are locks to be in the Opening Day lineup in 2013.

“The other guys have to bust their tails to convince us that they can play here next year,” the manager said. “Second, our pitching staff has a bunch of kids.” Guillen noted starting pitchers Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco are not shying away from taking the ball in the final weeks.

“Buehrle and JJ and Nolasco are for sure to come back for next year, as big league players,” Guillen said. “The rest of the kids are fighting for jobs.

“I don’t get it when they say the team isn’t playing hard enough. We’re not playing good, but we play hard.”

If the team quit on the manager, Guillen said, then Reyes wouldn’t be showing up at 1:30 p.m. for 7:10 p.m. starts. And Carlos Lee, who left Friday’s game with a neck sprain, wouldn’t ask to play on Saturday.

“The worst thing about a manager is when they say they don’t play hard enough for you,” Guillen said. “Or they don’t respect the manager in the clubhouse. When you make comments like, and it’s not true, that’s what gets me.”

Although Guillen has a four-year contract, he has not been directly informed that he will return in 2013.

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria will evaluate the entire organization at the end of the season. That includes the front office, where there is speculation that president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest may not be back.

The entire front office, as well as Guillen, his staff and the players will be evaluated after the year.

“How many times this week or last week did they say my name is on the hot seat?” Guillen said. “I don’t say anything about it. Yes, it is. Why not? Do I think I did a good job with this ballclub? No. Should I be fired? Well, if you look at the big picture, of course.

“This team is supposed to win. But when you make comments about the ballclub like that, saying, ‘my sources,’ or somebody tells me. That’s not professional. Then you’re not watching us play. If you’re watching us play the last couple of months, or last month, we played harder than anybody else in this game.”

Joe Frisaro

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