Bell backtracks on comments about Guillen

BY foxsports • September 25, 2012

If Showtime had stuck around the Marlins the entire season, there would be some September drama that would be hard to question.

In a recent interview with FOX Sports Florida, Miami reliever Heath Bell had claimed the Showtime series “The Franchise," which followed the Marlins throughout the season until the last episode aired Aug. 22, had “tried to build some drama between me and (Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen) and there wasn't any."

So much for that.

Bell, a much-ballyhooed free-agent signee who got off to a disastrous start and lost his closer’s job after the All-Star break, blasted his manager Monday on a Miami radio station.

“It’s hard to respect a guy that doesn’t tell you the truth or doesn’t tell you face to face,” Bell said during his weekly show on WQAM-AM. “We need a guy that leads us and that everybody respects and looks up to.”

Seems it’s hard to take too seriously what the flip-flopping Bell says as he quickly tried to backtrack from Monday's remarks.

“I was never criticizing Ozzie,’’ Bell claimed Tuesday on the MLB Network Radio. “I don’t think that’s what I was doing on the radio. I was choosing my words kind of right …. I never said I don’t respect him as a manager or a person.’’

Later in that interview, Bell did say he would “own up" to his Monday comments. A Marlins publicist wrote by email Tuesday that Bell would not be available for a phone interview but that he was expected to meet with the media prior to Miami's evening game at Atlanta.

But so much for Bell, who signed a three-year, $27 million contract with Miami last winter after having been an All-Star the previous three seasons with San Diego, saying that he wouldn't be complaining about his turbulent season.
“Do I want to close? Yes, I want to close," Bell said in his interview with FOX Sports Florida. “But I haven’t complained like I should be closing. You haven’t heard that, because I want to help the team win. Yes, I do want to close, but I understand why I lost my job."

It’s a no-brainer why Bell lost his job. He blew four of his first seven save chances and had an ERA of more than 10.00 in mid-May. At the All-Star break, when Guillen replaced Bell with Steve Cishek, Bell was 2-5 with a 6.75 ERA.

Cishek has done well as the closer, having saved 13 of 14 opportunities in the second half. So why would Guillen look now to put Bell back in over Cishek, who is 4-2 with 2.87 ERA and 14 saves on the season?

Yes, Bell is respectable 1-0 with a 3.12 ERA after the break. But Guillen wonders if part of the improvement is due to Bell, who blew his one save opportunity of the second half Sept. 8 at Washington, pitching in the less-pressure role of setup man.

“Is one of the reasons he is pitching well because he is pitching in that spot?" Guillen had said prior to Bell’s Monday comments.

Guillen also had said he wants Bell, who is 2-5 on the season with a 5.19 ERA and 19 saves in 26 opportunities, to be his closer next season. But he “has to be what he was," referring to the 132 saves he had with San Diego the previous three seasons.

But will both Guillen and Bell even be with Miami next season? There are rumors Guillen, whose Marlins are last in the National League East with a 66-87 mark before Tuesday's game, could be fired after just one season. And Bell might be sending signals he wouldn’t mind being traded.
Bell had been asked in the FOX Sports Florida interview if he would want to stick around the Marlins next season if he's not the closer. He claimed being committed to the team.

“I signed here for three to four years," said Bell, whose contract has a team option for 2015. “If I didn’t want to be here, I wouldn’t have signed here."

Big deal what Bell said. It’s difficult to fully believe him.

Bell claimed before Monday there was no drama between him and Guillen. Even if that had been the case, Bell sure has created some now.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at or on Twitter @christomasson