PORTLAND – When Miami Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen’s comments about his admiration for Fidel Castro became public earlier this week, it caused an emotional firestorm in Miami and beyond.
Guillen, who was suspended for five games, has apologized to everyone he can, especially the Cuban-Americans who were deeply offended by his remarks.
“But I don’t know if they’ll forgive him,” said Sea Dogs pitcher Chris Hernandez.
Hernandez, 23, grew up in south Florida and pitched for the University of Miami. His mother came to the U.S. from Cuba, as did his father’s parents.
Guillan’s comments struck a nerve.
“He shouldn’t have said it, plain and simple,” Hernandez said. “Knowing what Fidel is actually all about. And knowing all the troubles that people went through, who now live in south Florida … it’s really a touchy subject.
“And politics should always stay out of the baseball world. If you’re going to talk about anything to the media, talk baseball.”
Sea Dogs outfielder Juan Carlos Linares, who defected from Cuba less than three years ago, is one of those who only wants to talk baseball.
With Hernandez serving as an interpreter, Linares said he did not want to comment about Guillen’s opinions.
“But he didn’t like it,” Hernandez said.
LINARES PLAYED briefly in Portland in 2010. He began last year in Triple-A Pawtucket and broke his leg early in the season.
Linares, 27, was in major league spring training camp, eventually moving down to Pawtucket. He was a last-minute addition to the Sea Dogs roster, because Pawtucket had too many outfielders — former Sea Dogs Daniel Nava, Che-Hsuan Lin and Alex Hassan, along with minor league free agents Jason Repko and Josh Kroeger.
Linares is doing everything he can to force a promotion. Batting .407 after the road trip, he homered on the first pitch to lead off the bottom of the first inning.
SHORTSTOP DERRIK Gibson made only his second start with the Sea Dogs after beginning the season in search of Advil. Gibson had his wisdom teeth removed last week, two of which were impacted.
WHEN THE VIDEO about the late Dan Burke played before the game, Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles was one of those extra-attentive.
Boles first learned about Burke, the Sea Dogs owner who died in October, through his father, John Boles, the farm director for the Marlins when the team was affiliated with the Sea Dogs.
Then in 1997, a 22-year-old Kevin Boles spent the summer in Portland.
“I was the bullpen catcher and I remember going to the first lobster bake,” said Boles, referring to the annual affair for the team at Burke’s home in Kennebunk Beach.
“He was around all the time and always very gracious, just a great guy. My father always spoke very highly of him. And when I spent the summer here, he welcomed me. It was an experience I’ll never forget.”
ET CETERA: Portland pitching coach Bob Kipper was back home in South Carolina, attending a high school event involving his daughter. Roving pitching instructor Ralph Treuel filled in. … Two of Dan Burke’s grandchildren, Chris Burke and Annie McNamara, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. … The Massabesic High Concert Band performed the national anthem.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: