"You never want it to be on your watch. You never want it to happen when you're on the team," ace Josh Johnson said. "It's part of it. It's tough. They felt like they had to make a move. Maybe it will kick-start us."
In a season where the Marlins have not been able to generate consistency, the organization decided on Wednesday morning to replace Gonzalez with Edwin Rodriguez as the interim manager.
Hitting coach Jim Presley and bench coach Carlos Tosca also were replaced.
Brandon Hyde takes over as bench coach, while John Mallee is the new hitting coach. Both are on an interim basis.
Many Marlins players were stunned by the news, which broke early in the morning. First baseman Gaby Sanchez found out when his wife called him about 10:30 a.m. ET. The rookie was sleeping at the time.
Jorge Cantu, meanwhile, turned on the TV in the morning and saw the report.
"It's a business. That's the first thing that comes to my mind," Cantu said. "It's an organizational decision. When you have to move on, you have to move on. It's a business decision. Nothing personal. I'm sure that Fredi took it the right way.
"They're professionals. It's a job. People have to move on. That's what it was. They're respected in the game, those three guys. They have my respect, and I will wish them nothing but the best. I'm sure they're going to be fine. They're fine individuals. They're very professional."
Sanchez, a rookie first baseman, is appreciative of the opportunity Gonzalez gave him.
"It was definitely shocking," Sanchez said. "But the game goes on. Fredi is a great manager. I have nothing but respect for the job that he did. He gave me a chance to come out and compete in the Major Leagues. I'll never forget that. I know he will get another job, and he will be fine. I feel that we did underperform."
Gonzalez is highly respected, not only for his managerial skills, but for his caring personality. He respected his players, rarely if ever singling them out to the media.
He also believed in patience and trusting his players.
The Marlins' front office acknowledged that it had "failed" to give Gonzalez better personnel this season. In all, 17 different relief pitchers have been on the team.
"We feel like we've failed," Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. "It's not a reflection on Fredi or Carlos or Jim Presley. We share a lot of that burden and it's a difficult day for me."
Winningest Big Fish
|John Boles||'96, '99-01||205-241||.460|
Speculation is rampant that Gonzalez will wind up back with the Braves, where he was previously Bobby Cox's third-base coach.
Braves third baseman Chipper Jones hopes Gonzalez returns to Atlanta, which is his home.
"I think everybody here would love to have Fredi back," Jones said. "He coached third base here for a few years and learned a lot from Bobby. He knows how things work around here. All the guys love him. I think he'd be a great fit. In what capacity? That remains to be seen."
The Marlins' front office felt a change needed to be made after the club was swept by the Rangers from June 15-17.
"We really got concerned that something was missing," Beinfest said.
Now that the change has been made, the Marlins are looking to make a serious playoff run. To do that, they must get back over .500 and show consistency.
"You're getting a new environment, a new manager and two new coaches," veteran Wes Helms said. "You get comfortable with your surroundings. You're creatures of habit. It's kind of like you're a big family. When something like this happens, it takes its toll on you. It's what is a tough thing about this game. You still have to go out and do your job."
Bottom line, to the players, is the big leagues is about results and winning.
"It's the truth. It's the bottom line. This business is cutthroat," Chris Coghlan said. "I'm learning that each day. I'm learning that more and more how cutthroat it is. The purity of this game is the nine innings that you play. Outside of the nine innings, it's a business.
"That's tough for me to understand. I'm growing with that. I know if we had won more games, he'd still be here. There is no doubt. Winning cures a lot. You feel responsibility as a player. I think we all have to look at ourselves as well and know we need to do something to change the way we're playing right now."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. MLB.com's Mark Bowman contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.