Heath Bell close to closing again

Updated: August 8, 2012, 7:41 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Heath Bell is close to getting his job back as the Miami Marlins' closer.

Manager Ozzie Guillen said Bell has pitched well enough in a reduced role to merit another shot at the ninth inning. The three-time All-Star signed a $27 million, three-year contract with Miami last December but had struggled so badly in his first season with the Marlins that he was replaced as the team's closer.

Bell is 2-5 with a 5.36 ERA and 19 saves in 25 opportunities. Pitching earlier in the game, however, he has yielded only three hits over nine scoreless innings in his last 10 appearances.

"That's the reason we (thought) about it, to put him back where he belongs," Guillen said. "He should be there. And I don't make that decision for him. He makes that decision for himself. He should be there. Now I think he's back where he was, or what he is, and we're going to give him another opportunity."

Guillen said he might use Bell in a save situation Wednesday night against the New York Mets, but hadn't made up his mind 100 percent. Steve Cishek has been closing effectively for Miami, but Guillen said pitching Cishek in the seventh and eighth gives him more versatility in the bullpen.

"I think Heath Bell -- I said from the beginning -- we were a better ballclub when he was closing," Guillen said.

Cishek has not permitted a run in his last 17 games, going 6 for 6 in save chances.

"Yeah, but it's kind of a lot of load for this kid," Guillen said. "We've got to take it easy. Now we know he can do that role."

Guillen said he spoke Wednesday with pitching coach Randy St. Claire about the situation, but hadn't talked to Bell yet.

Bell left San Diego to join the Marlins this season. He has 151 saves since 2009, the most in the majors during that span.

"That's his job," Guillen said. "Right now he's pitched good enough to get back to the closing role."


Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press