Miami, FL (Sports Network) - Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen has been suspended five games by the team for comments he made about former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Guillen was quoted in a Time magazine article, which appeared online last Friday, praising Castro for his longevity in the face of international scorn.
The comments have drawn severe criticism from a Miami community heavily populated with Cuban-Americans, many of whom left the Caribbean island nation to escape atrocities from Castro's dictatorial regime. Some Cuban-American groups in Miami have called for Guillen's ouster.
Guillen, a native of Venezuela, was quoted in the Time magazine article as saying, "I love Fidel Castro," although he appeared to try to rectify the remark by adding that he respected the communist leader for staying in power for a long period.
"The Marlins acknowledge the seriousness of the comments attributed to Guillen," the team said Tuesday in a statement. "The pain and suffering caused by Fidel Castro cannot be minimized, especially in a community filled with victims of the dictatorship."
Guillen left the Marlins after Monday's game in Philadelphia, taking advantage of an off-day, to address the media in Miami. He also met with club officials, who issued the suspension on Tuesday. It will take effect immediately.
"It's a sad situation because I have to leave the ball club right now," said Guillen on Tuesday. "I respect that decision. I will do whatever they want me to do."
Guillen opened his press conference Tuesday with comments in Spanish, but he did add remarks in English.
"I am very, very sorry about the problem," he said. "I will do everything in my power to make it better."
Guillen is in his first season as the Marlins manager, although he lives in the area and was a coach with team before his eight-year run as the manager of the Chicago White Sox.
"I lived in Miami for a long time, I'm embarrassed," Guillen stated. "I did hurt a lot of people. I have to apologize because I did the wrong thing. It's not about what I'm going to do right now, it's about how I'm going to make it better in the future."
Actions, Guillen said, would speak louder than his words on Tuesday.
Guillen was asked to clarify his remarks about Castro and said he didn't admire the Cuban leader, but said he was just surprised that a leader could remain in power for so long despite hurting so many people.
"The interpretation didn't come out as I wanted," Guillen said about the interview with the magazine. "I had one thing in mind and I said something else. I was thinking in Spanish and said something else in English."
The media room at the new Marlins Park was filled, and the video of the news conference was broadcast on a giant screen outside the stadium.
Major League Baseball was apparently keeping a close eye on the situation and issued a statement on Tuesday.
"Major League Baseball supports today's decision by the Marlins to suspend Ozzie Guillen," commissioner Bud Selig stated. "As I have often said, baseball is a social institution with important social responsibilities. All of our 30 clubs play significant roles within their local communities, and I expect those who represent Major League Baseball to act with the kind of respect and sensitivity that the game's many cultures deserve. Mr. Guillen's remarks, which were offensive to an important part of the Miami community and others throughout the world, have no place in our game."
Major League Baseball once suspended then-Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott in the 1990s for comments she made about Adolf Hitler.
04/10 13:02:37 ET