MIAMI -- The Marlins have not started the way they had hoped for this season, but they are positive their struggles are unrelated to the off-field issues surrounding manager Ozzie Guillen.
Guillen was suspended five games for comments he made to Time Magazine about Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Bench coach Joey Cora, who is filling in for Guillen during the suspension, does not believe the Marlins slow start is related to Guillen's issue.
"They're not pressing because of what happened with Ozzie," Cora said. "Are we feeling a little bit of pressure? Maybe. This is a young ballclub. We're pretty young and this is probably the first time that expectations are really high before the year starts. They're getting used to the spotlight and the pressure and expectation of winning. That comes with experience, how to handle those situations. They're learning how to play with expectations."
The Marlins have won just two of their first seven games heading into Friday's series opener against the Astros, but Cora points out that the team was struggling before the Guillen issue surfaced last week.
"We lost the first game and nothing had happened," Cora said. "We lost the second game in Cincinnati and nothing had happened then. It's not like we started losing after the Ozzie thing. That's not true. It is what it is. All we need to do is we need to score runs."
Despite the off-the-field distraction the organization is dealing with surrounding Guillen's comments, outfielder Logan Morrison insists the team's performance has not been affected by the manager's suspension.
"Of course we miss him but it's not inhibiting us from winning games and it's not a distraction," Morrison said.
Cora added that the team is focusing on handling their responsibilities while Guillen is focused on handling his off-the-field situation.
"We all support Ozzie," Cora said. "He's our leader. He thought about what he did and he's apologized. We have to move on and play baseball. That's our job. Our main concern is playing against Houston, trying to play well and trying to win games. Ozzie is taking care of Ozzie's stuff and we have to take care of what we have to do on the field."