Simply call it perfect timing.

It’s only fitting that MLB’s first Puerto Rican-born manager stood in Hiram Bithorn Stadium for baseball’s return to the island.

Edwin Rodriguez’s story, though uncertain with the mystery surrounding who will be the Florida Marlins’ permanent manager, is a good one. 

He lives five minutes from the stadium.

More than 150 people greeted him at the airport and began chanting his name when the Marlins arrived.

Owner Jeffrey Loria told Rodriguez that he should be first off the team bus as it reached the hotel. His mother, who rarely drives, was waiting for him. 

Better than any weekday game at Sun Life Stadium, 18,703 fans watched Rodriguez become the first Puerto Rican native to win a major league game on the island.

It was a party from the beginning, with noisemakers that would put vuvuzelas to shame.

From drums to singing, fans relished the return of baseball.

The Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins were the last two teams to play in San Juan in 2004, when the Expos played part of their home schedule in the U.S. territory. 

As part of MLB’s initiative to expand the sport more globally, the New York Mets and Fish finalized a deal during Spring Training.

For Florida, it was a no-brainer.

With Miami’s close proximity to the Caribbean, it’s an excuse to reach out to a new fan base. As Marlins Ballpark continues to be built in Little Havana, the front office hopes that fans from Latin America will visit in 2012 and beyond.

Plus, it’s a different atmosphere from the troubling problems back home following a sweep by the NL West-leading San Diego Padres.

Whether Rodriguez is promoted from his role as interim manager remains to be seen. His record is 2-4 since his “call-up” from Triple-A New Orleans.

Reports state that talks with Bobby Valentine have stalled.

Rodriguez played just three years in the majors and never found the success fellow countrymen Roberto Clemente and Pudge Rodriguez did on the baseball diamond.

But his achievements over the past week might be more meaningful.

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