Girardi downplays tiff with Marlins' owner


Florida rookie skipper Joe Girardi is a serious Manager of the Year candidate.

He also might have been a serious candidate to be sacked last week.

Girardi is downplaying his reported disagreement with team owner Jeffrey Loria that may have led to a potential firing/resignation last Sunday after a home loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"I think this whole situation has gotten blown out of proportion, which is OK," Girardi said last week while the Marlins were in Washington. "People speculated on a lot of things that happened."

The speculation occurred because the Marlins closed ranks. But this is certain: Loria was perturbed by blown strike calls by umpire Larry Vanover in the middle of last Sunday's game and was vocal about it from his seat near the Marlins' home dugout. Loria leaned into the dugout to express his displeasure, and Girardi apparently told his owner to pipe down. After the game, the home clubhouse was closed for 83 minutes.

Girardi held a team meeting, but he also had a loud, closed-door session with several management types, including Loria and general manager Larry Beinfest. At one point, one Marlins beat writer saw club employees readying a side room for a news conference - a room last used when former manager Jack McKeon announced his resignation in 2005. The Marlins later denied any announcements were planned, and Girardi said the meeting was about what to do with injured reliever Logan Kensing.

Last week, Girardi called his relationship with Loria "good. Obviously, we both have a huge desire to win and if you find me after any loss I take them hard. I am going to be angry and I don't like to lose."

Girardi, a 41-year-old former catcher hand-picked by Loria last offseason, said he believes his future is in Miami. He's led a team filled with rookies and castoffs to a near-.500 record and striking distance of the wild-card race.

"I signed a three-year deal, and when you take a job you hope to be there forever. Sometimes plans change, sometimes opportunities are different," Girardi said. "Sometimes life brings different challenges and changes, but I don't see myself going anywhere. I don't have plans of going anywhere."

A pricey decision

St. Louis' Gold Glove center fielder Jim Edmonds, 36, wants to play again next year, but he's on pace for his worst offensive output since joining the Cardinals in 2000. So the club might choose to buy out his option for $3 million instead of exercising it for $10 million. The next six weeks could weigh heavily on that decision.

"It's there for the organization to determine if he's a $10 million player," said manager Tony La Russa. "It's straightforward. Jim's a pro. He's been around. I've got to believe he understands that. If he wants to earn that money next year through an option or as a free agent with somebody else, he's got to prove he's worth $10 million."

Quick hits

Of Pittsburgh closer Mike Gonzalez's franchise-record 19 straight saves this season, only six were perfect innings. ... Brett Tomko, a long-time starter now in the Los Angeles Dodgers' bullpen, said he'd like to be a closer. ... In seven of Jake Peavy's first 22 starts, his San Diego Padres teammates failed to score while he was in the game.

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