Cuban-born Royals weigh in on Ozzie

Cuban-born Royals weigh in on Ozzie

OAKLAND -- Royals catcher Brayan Pena, who defected from Cuba in 2000, got up
early -- at about 7 a.m. PT in San Francisco -- because he wanted to watch Ozzie Guillen's news conference in Miami and what he'd say about his controversial remarks about Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Pena's conclusion was that the Marlins' manager was sincerely sorry, but that South Florida's Cuban community would be slow to forgive him.

"I really saw somebody that was very regretful, somebody that was in a lot of pain, somebody who knew he'd caused him and his family and a lot of people a lot of pain," Pena said. "And somebody who really believed that he can change, that he learned from his mistake. He was like a piñata.

"This is America, everybody deserves a second chance. That's why I'm proud to be an American, that's why I became an American citizen. This is what a real democracy is, because I lived on the other side -- where you can't explain yourself, where you have to very careful what you say."

Pena, who lives in Miami, feels that Guillen has to follow through on his vow to help those within the Cuban community.

"Some people talk the talk and some people walk the walk," Pena said. "Now is the time for him to walk [the walk], because it's going to take time. For you to clean your image down there in Miami -- and especially right there in Little Havana -- it's going to be tough. "

Third-base coach Eddie Rodriguez, bench coach Chino Cadahia and infielder Yuniesky Betancourt are other Cuban-born Royals.

Rodriguez recalled leaving Cuba and "the struggles and the pain that we had to go through, leaving family and my dad's business and basically our life."

"It's tough." said Rodriguez, who has known Guillen for years. "I don't think Ozzie meant any harm. I feel that way, [but] it's a thorn in the Cuban community's side. I hope it passes -- and it passes in the right way -- and that balance and understanding comes across from everybody."

Guillen received a five-game suspension from the Marlins.

"This is a little bit bigger than baseball," Pena said. "It touches people's feelings and people's lives -- and it was a hard comment from him. But I don't like to talk about [the suspension], because I see the picture bigger than that."

Pena understands how the Cubans in South Florida feel.

"1999 was the last time that I was able to go back to my country. So imagine people 50, 60 years ago like Eddie or [bench coach] Chino Cadahia and those guys," Pena said. "For me, it's been like forever."