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Stricter Gonzalez Makes Difference For Marlins


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I know everyone on the board will be happy reading this story.


Stricter Gonzalez makes difference for the Marlins

Posted on Sun, May. 11,


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Fredi Gonzalez, who has said managers make a difference in only five games or so a year, assuredly knows the Marlins are winning more because of his players.


Still, players have noticed positive changes in Gonzalez in his second year. They see a manager who is more demanding and stricter (but still well-liked by players) and more aggressive.


''He's holding us more accountable for our actions and holding us to a higher standard this year,'' first baseman Mike Jacobs said, adding that was ''absolutely'' needed. ''When your manager expects more out of you, it brings more out of you.'' Agent Matt Sosnick, who has several Marlins, said players told him ''it's a more disciplined and structured environment'' now.


The changes began with Gonzalez banning loud clubhouse music, emphasizing defense this spring, and unlike last year, requiring about 30 minutes of defensive drills before most home games. Although Florida still led baseball in errors through Thursday, don't blame preparation. With Gonzalez setting the tone, ''there's less tolerance of stupid mistakes, mental breakdowns, lack of hustle,'' catcher Matt Treanor said.


Some internally said Gonzalez might have been too hands-off last year compared with Joe Girardi. But Josh Willingham said Gonzalez now ''keeps more tabs on what's going on.'' Others also credit the elimination of infantile behavior to Luis Gonzalez's arrival.


Last summer, one team official said he wished Fredi Gonzalez got angrier with his players more often. (Obviously, that's not an issue now.) ''I don't know where this nice guy stuff came from,'' he said earlier this year. ``I don't want to be known as Attila The Hun, either.''


In fact, his engaging, communicative style is an asset. One example: After Atlanta's John Smoltz told Gonzalez he likes Andrew Miller's stuff, Gonzalez relayed that to Miller, whose confidence was boosted. ''He genuinely cares about his players, and you want to play for somebody like that,'' Willingham said.


Armed with a better bench and bullpen, Gonzalez has been more aggressive. ''It seems we've already hit and run as much as we did all last year,'' Cody Ross said. ``He has a better grasp on the team this year.''


Even Gonzalez admitted last week, ''I feel more comfortable around the team'' now. ''Fredi,'' Marlins president David Samson told fans this spring, ``will be with us for a very long time.''




? Hanley Ramirez would have welcomed a no-trade clause in his new six-year, $70 million contract extension, but the Marlins likely will not grant one. ESPN analyst and former Mets general manager Steve Phillips -- calling Ramirez ''the National League version of Alex Rodriguez'' -- said off-air Ramirez likely would have commanded $18 million-$20 million annually as a free agent after 2011.

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