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First visit to Marlins Park will be an event

First visit to Marlins Park will be an event

First visit to Marlins Park will be an event
ST. LOUIS -- After an off-day Monday, the Cubs will open a three-game series in Miami against the Marlins. Tuesday will be the first time the Cubs see new Marlins Park and it also will be Miami manager Ozzie Guillen's first game back after serving a five-game suspension for comments he made about Fidel Castro.

The latter will likely get more attention than how the Cubs feel about the ballpark.

"A few extra people will be down there, there's no question about it," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Sunday. "There's definitely going to be added press and media and questions. It's an unfortunate incident that happened and hopefully it goes away pretty quick, but it's not going to go away when we're there."

What has Sveum heard about the new park?

"It sounds like it's huge, it sounds like it's really big," he said. "The gaps are huge, just watching a little bit of the games I've watched. There have been some balls crushed that are outs. [The Marlins] have some speed. It turns into a triples ballpark, so that's one of the things you have to be aware of. Balls in the gap are triples, not doubles, and you have to be aware of that and try to eliminate the slugging percentage, especially early in the inning when there's no outs or one out."

The Cubs will miss facing Carlos Zambrano, who was traded to Miami in January for pitcher Chris Volstad.

"He was a teammate of mine for a lot of years," said Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster, who will start Tuesday. "He's a good person and was a good friend to me. I'm excited to see him and glad we don't have to face him, because I know how good he can be."

After Sveum was hired as the Cubs manager, he did talk to Zambrano on the phone. The Cubs' clubhouse is definitely quieter without Zambrano.

"You hear about certain things and you hear what a good guy he was in the clubhouse and guys liked him, but obviously, he'd go off the handle a little bit once in a while," Sveum said. "Personally, I can't even comment [on Zambrano], because I don't know him that well besides a phone call after I got the job. Obviously, he had some really good years, and he's a heck of a pitcher."

The Cubs have had fewer distractions this season.

"It's early in the year, but that's one thing you try to do as a manager is keep everybody on the same playing field every single day and communicate. And as a manager, you have to be the same guy every day," Sveum said. "You keep going; it's a long season."

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