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.

Miguel Gonzalez can't stop two-out rallies as White Sox fall to Oakland

Miguel Gonzalez can't stop two-out rallies as White Sox fall to Oakland

GLENDALE, Ariz. — His split-fingered fastball could use a little work, but Miguel Gonzalez is ready for the regular season.

The White Sox pitcher allowed four earned runs, all with two outs, in his penultimate Cactus League start on Wednesday. Gonzalez also gave up nine hits as the White Sox lost to the Oakland A’s 5-3 at Camelback Ranch.

"I'm pretty excited for (the regular season)," Gonzalez said. "We all know that spring can be a little long sometimes. But we are here, we are here to work and keep doing what we are doing. We are going to be OK."

Gonzalez allowed two runs each in the first and second innings. Both rallies came with two outs and were a bit of a surprise to the right-hander, who left after 4 1/3 innings. Gonzalez wonders if his split-fingered fastball might not be as sharp as normal because of the dry desert air in Arizona that affects many pitchers.

"It wasn't there today," Gonzalez said. "Not quite as good as I thought it would be. Bullpen I felt really good. Falling behind hitters first two innings. That doesn't really help you, especially a team like this that's very aggressive.

"I'm working on (the splitter). It's fine. I mean it's a little different then it is in Florida. It's not as humid. But you can't think that way. You have to go out there and keep working."

[WHITE SOX TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Melky Cabrera went 1-for-3 with two RBIs for the White Sox. Yolmer Sanchez tripled and homered in the loss. Former White Sox farmhand Frankie Montas struck out four over two scoreless innings to earn the save for Oakland.

The White Sox sent four more players to minor league camp before the game, including reliever Tommy Kahnle. The team sent five players to the minors on Tuesday, including pitcher Carson Fulmer. While Fulmer would love to start the season in the majors, he said it won't hinder him from taking advantage of his time at Triple-A Charlotte.

"Obviously last year getting a taste, it's that dream you've had since you were a kid," Fulmer said. "You want more of it. It's not an addiction in a way. But once you get a taste of it you want more of it. All of us young guys are trying to get back to where we've been. I think time will tell, but I think we'll get a chance here soon and get a chance to create something special."

Team USA captures first World Baseball Classic championship

Team USA captures first World Baseball Classic championship

For the first time in the history of the World Baseball Classic, the United States of America walked away champions.

Team USA bested Puerto Rico in blowout fashion on Wednesday night in Los Angeles, winning the championship game by an 8-0 score at Dodger Stadium.

White Sox relief pitchers David Robertson and Nate Jones were part of the championship-winning American roster. Robertson pitched in Wednesday's game, closing things out with a scoreless ninth inning.

Cubs infielder Javy Baez came up short as a member of the Puerto Rican team. Baez went 0-for-3 with a strikeout on Wednesday.

Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman dominated the Puerto Rican lineup, pitching six no-hit innings before surrendering the first hit in the seventh inning.

The Americans crossed home plate eight times on the night, getting a two-run home run from Tigers infielder Ian Kinsler and two-run hits from Christian Yelich and Brandon Crawford. Andrew McCutchen also drove in two, and Kinsler and Nolan Arenado scored two runs apiece.

The Puerto Ricans mustered just three hits.

This was the first time the United States even advanced to the championship game in the four times the event has been staged. It's just the second top-four finish for the Americans. They finished fourth in 2009.