A little more than 24 hours after blowing his third save of the season, new Marlins closer Heath Bell said Friday he was eager to go out and redeem himself.
"[If he's going to pitch] tonight he'll have to pitch lefty," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said before Friday's game against the Diamondbacks. "He threw more pitches than [Ricky] Nolasco. Hopefully, we can pitch him [Saturday]. 50 pitches for [Carlos] Zambrano, Nolasco, [Mark] Buehrle that's nothing. For a closer, that's three games. Maybe more. Every closer is supposed to throw 15 pitches. That's three or four games. We have to be careful with him."
Bell, signed to a three-year, $27-million deal in the winter, isn't in any danger of losing his job. Guillen reiterated Friday he's fully behind the 34-year old All-Star. "If we want to win this thing he has to come with us. He has to be there in the ninth inning," Guillen said.
Bell said Friday he's figured out what's led to his struggles with the help of pitching coach Randy Saint Claire. But when asked what they were, Bell didn't care to elaborate saying "you have to ask [St. Claire]."
"I'm confident I can pitch like I know I can," Bell said. "For whatever reason I was creating bad habits this year. Some things [are] even from last year that we found out. Saint said I need to start pounding the strike zone. I'm not doing that right now. I will pound the strike zone from here on out.
"Mechanically, I'm fine," Bell went onto say. "There's just a few other things if Saint wants to talk about, we'll talk about it. But I'm not talking about it.
"Sometimes you go through ups and downs. We definitely should be better team wise. We should be playing defense and hitting better. But this is a team sport and why we have a marathon season that's six months. I'm not big into cliches and I'm not going to say it's early. But we grind everyday. If you have a bad month, so be it. It's not how you start, it's how you finish."
Bell sounded angry Thursday when he volunteered that a member of the team’s training staff questioned his work habits, saying he was doing too much, not too little.
Asked about those comments Friday, Guillen said: "If Heath said he had a disagreement with the pitching coach, I might buy that. But I don't think the trainer told him to throw 10 balls in a row. I'm just being honest.
"I don't like talking about my players, but maybe he said it because there is some reason to it. I don't know. From the minute they leave the training room to the time they get on the field, it's like four hours. If he had a reason to say it maybe you guys can ask... [But] is that going to be his excuse? I hope not. What does a trainer have to do with how you perform? Maybe he can disagree if Randy St. Claire said something about pitching. But a trainer? I don't know if that's a good excuse or that's the truth. If that's the truth, we have to find out."
> About an hour before the Marlins took the field at Marlins Park for batting practice, Guillen came out and threw an extra round to shortstop Jose Reyes, who is sitting out for the first time this season after getting off to a cold start.
How cold of a start has it been for the Mets' former All-Star shortstop? His .205 batting average over his first 18 games is the worst of his career since becoming an everyday player in 2005. His previous low? .231 in 2006. Guillen said the Marlins struggles as a team at the plate aren't the result of a lack of work. He said the team to extra BP three times on its six-game road trip.
"I think Jose needs more a break mentally than physically. I think you watch his at-bats, not just in New York, the [entire] road trip he was rushing to the plate, trying to do too much," Guillen said. "But it's not just Jose. There are a lot of guys struggling on our club right now. We're trying to come out of it as quickly as we can. We're working on it. I think the most important thing is we have to relax. You cannot get five hits in one at-bat. You can't hit a three-run home run with one guy on base. Just relax and do what you're supposed to do."
SAMSON'S 52-MILE TREK: Marlins President David Samson spent the morning, afternoon and evening Friday on a 52-mile trek from Pompano Beach to Marlins Park -- all to raise money for charity.
Asked the longest distance he'd run in his life, Guillen joked: "A triple. That's it. And I was dying to get to third base."
"I'm not a running guy, but I think the cause of the running is very great," Guillen added. "I tip my hat... I hope he makes it alive. That's not easy bro."
Samson ran the double-marathon on Friday to honor the workers who built Marlins Park as well as raise money for various charities.
Turns out by the way Samson isn't the only long-distance runner on the team. Bell said he ran a marathon in California back in 1996 and has competed in about 15 triathlons -- none in the last five years, though.