Marlins owner Loria declines to endorse Girardi

Updated: August 27, 2006, 11:39 AM ET
Associated Press

MIAMI -- Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria offered a curt assessment of his strained relationship with manager Joe Girardi, which may mean the two will soon part company.

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Buster Olney
Either the differences have to be hashed out or Joe Girardi needs to move on, and because Jeffrey Loria -- once Girardi's patron saint in the organization -- is the referee, you have to think there is a better than 50-50 chance that the manager is going to be fired.

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"Everything is, you know, it's fine," Loria said Saturday -- before the Marlins beat the Brewers 7-2. "But I don't want to talk about it."

Addressing his rift with Girardi for the first time since it became public three weeks ago, Loria repeatedly tried to steer the conversation away from the subject. He declined to endorse the job Girardi has done in his first year as manager, even though baseball's youngest team has far exceeded expectations.

"Managers obviously have some input during the course of the season," Loria said. "But what's important is the product that's put on the field by the baseball department as well. An amazing job was done by our organization before we started this season."

After the Marlins game, Girardi declined to comment.

"Managers obviously have some input during the course of the season ... but what's important is the product that's put on the field by the baseball department as well."
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria

"I just talk about the guys on the field," he said.

When told his comments might fuel the perception Girardi won't return next season, Loria told reporters: "If you guys want to come to those conclusions, OK. As far as I'm concerned, the only focus for me and the fans should be what's on the field, personalities aside."

The rift erupted at a game Aug. 6, when Loria berated an umpire while sitting behind the plate. From the dugout, Girardi told or asked the owner to stop, witnesses said. Loria angrily left his seat and confronted Girardi after the game during a 90-minute clubhouse meeting.

Loria has declined to comment on the episode or respond to published reports that he fired Girardi, then changed his mind.

"I don't want to talk about ancient history," Loria said shortly before Saturday's game against Milwaukee. "These kids deserve the opportunity to finish out the season unencumbered by peripheral issues like who said what or who did what."

Girardi, under contract through 2008, has repeatedly declined to discuss the matter or his future. With baseball's lowest payroll, the Marlins were widely projected to lose more than 100 games, but instead they remain on the fringe of the NL wild-card race.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press