Welcome to Ozzie, Miami

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Welcome to Ozzie, Miami

Over the course of his eight years with the White Sox, Ozzie Guillen said plenty of cringe-worthy things. Most (but not all) of the time, we could collectively roll our eyes and chalk it up to Ozzie being Ozzie.

His comments about Fidel Castro might have been brushed off in Chicago. In fact, it already happened, and it didn't make waves here. That's Ozzie. He has strong opinions, and he's not shy about voicing them. And he doesn't choose his words carefully.

But his latest round of comments about his admiration for Castro are a completely different animal. He not only offended a large part of the fanbase Miami is trying to win over, he alienated them.

Guillen seemed sincere in his apology, but that he's made these comments about Castro before makes his contriteness seemed canned, forced by a team that's in desperate need of a PR save. This may not have been one of Guillen's trademark off-the-cuff riffs that he may or may not mean. This smells of something Guillen has believed for years.

Cry freedom of speech all you want. Guillen had every right to say what he said, but the Marlins had every right to punish Guillen. He damaged their brand. For a team that's aggressively trying to gain a foothold in the Miami market, these comments were a significant blow.

Guillen was one of the central parts of those marketing efforts. Like it or not, he's one of the faces of the Marlins. And one of the faces of the team has given the organization a black eye not even a week into the regular season.

Maybe Guillen's apology will be accepted -- although the early returns aren't good. Maybe winning will cure everything. Or maybe this will all blow over in a few weeks.

Or maybe it won't. If the Marlins don't win, it'll only give Guillen's opposition more ammo, not that they exactly need any right now. But keeping a manager who not only said he supports Fidel Castro but also led the Marlins to a fourth-place finish? Not even a sharp new park will keep fans coming out for that.

Guillen said those comments were the biggest mistake of his life. He just might be right about that.

Four top prospects among 19 players invited to White Sox big league camp

Four top prospects among 19 players invited to White Sox big league camp

Four of the team's top-10 prospects and a former All-Star are among the 19 nonroster invitees to White Sox big league camp this spring.

The team announced Monday that prospects Michael Kopech, Zack Collins, Zack Burdi and Spencer Adams have all been invited to camp next month. Everth Cabrera, an All-Star in 2013 for the San Diego Padres, Cody Asche, Cory Luebke and Geovany Soto are among the eight minor league free agents who also received an invitation. Pitchers and catchers report to camp in Glendale, Ariz. on Feb. 14 while the team holds its first full-squad workout on Feb. 18.

Kopech was acquired in the Chris Sale trade in December while Collins and Burdi were both selected in the 2016 amateur draft. Adams was drafted in 2014.

Signed earlier this month, Soto is expected to earn a spot on the 25-man roster. Soto, who played for the White Sox in 2015, finished last season with four home runs and an .809 OPS in 86 plate appearances for the Los Angeles Angels.

Cabrera, who produced 4.6 Wins Above Replacement between 2012-13, hasn't played in the majors since he appeared in 29 games for the Baltimore Orioles in 2015. Luebke, who has twice had reconstructive elbow surgery, finished with a 9.35 ERA in nine games for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season. Asche blasted 31 homers with a .240/.298/.385 slash line in 1,287 plate appearances since 2013 with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Other minor league free agents include: left-handed pitcher David Holmberg, right-handers Blake Smith and Anthony Swarzak, and catcher Roberto Pena.

White Sox minor leaguer pitchers Aaron Bummer, Brian Clark, Jace Fry and Matt Purke, infielders Nicky Delmonico and Danny Hayes, and outfielder Courtney Hawkins also have been invited to camp.

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