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Heath Bell close to closing again

    NEW YORK -- Don't be surprised if Ozzie Guillen signals for Heath Bell the next time there's a ninth-inning save situation. Guillen said Bell merits another chance.

    "We're thinking about putting him back where he belongs," Guillen said. "We're going to give him another opportunity."

     Bell, who was an absolute bust before the All-Star break and the poster child of disaster for the Marlins, has looked like a new pitcher of late. In his 10 relief outings covering nine innings since the break, Bell has not allowed a run, given up only three hits, and struck out eight to go with three walks.

     The reason?

     "I fixed my mechanics," Bell said. "There was something wrong all year. I found out what it was a couple of weeks ago. I realized what I was doing. I feel like the person I was before."

     Specifically, Bell said he shortened his stride by three or four inches. He said that slight adjustment has enabled him to keep the ball down in the strike zone.

     "If I stride too long, I can't reach out in front of me, so therefore everything's up," Bell said. "My pitches aren't as sharp. I can't finish. You can kind of not make up for it by not pushing off, not throwing has hard, ease up, drop your arm angle....But as soon as I shortened up my stride, everything clicked, every pitch was -- 90 percent of the time -- exactly where I wanted it to be, just like I was in previous years."

     Bell said he didn't "feel right" as far back as spring training.

     "I found out what it was," Bell said. "I think I strided too far at the end of spring and into the season, and it was creating a bad habit, and then everybody else was about my arm, about my head, about second-guessing me about what pitches I threw....I created a bad habit in spring, and nobody caught it."

     Bell said he figured out the flaw on his own.

     "I'm my own best coach," he said. "I'm not trying to take anything away from (pitching coach Randy) St. Claire. I'm not saying he's bad. I'm just saying my pitching style is unique and I need to figure it out, and I figured it out."

     Bell acknowledged that he "stunk" the first half.

     "I don't know if I was the worst pitcher in the game, but I was making a run for it," he said.

     Guillen said he met with St. Claire earlier today to discuss bullpen roles, and both felt that Bell was a better fit for the ninth inning than Cishek, who they see as someone better able to throw more than one frame, if necessary.

     Said St. Claire: "For me, I'd rather have Bell as the closer, because Bell is a one-inning guy and Cishek is a multi-inning reliever, as well as Dunn. So I think it better fits us with him as closer."


     Jose Reyes takes a 25-game hitting streak into tonight's game, along with a sore right hand. Reyes jammed his hand on Friday in Washington, which led to swelling on the top of his hand between his thumb and index finger.

      The swelling has decreased somewhat, but Reyes has decided to wear a thumb guard, starting with tonight's game. A switch-hitter, Reyes said it is more difficult to bat from the right side than it does from the left due to the injury.



     Marlins: 1. Petersen, lf; 2. Ruggiano, cf; 3. Reyes, ss; 4. Lee, 1b; 5. Stanton, rf; 6. Dobbs, 3b; 7. Green, 2b; 8. Buck, c; 9. Eovaldi, p.

     Mets: 1. Tejada, ss; 2. Baxter, rf; 3. Wright, 3b; 4. Davis, 1b; 5. Murphy, 2b; 6. Valdespin, lf; 7. Torres, cf; 8. Thole, c; 9. Young, p.