CLEVELAND -- It wasn't an overpowering performance on Friday night for Marlins closer Heath Bell. But it was a significant one.
Bell's perfect ninth inning against the Indians at Progressive Field gave the veteran his first save since May 1.
He hasn't had many opportunities of late. His last save opportunity was on May 4 at San Diego, when he let a ninth inning lead slip away. Miami would win the game in 12 innings.
For the season, Bell has converted four of eight save opportunities.
After the missed opportunity in San Diego a few weeks ago, manager Ozzie Guillen considered other closer options. Steve Cishek had a chance at Houston on May 9 and he was unable to convert.
Edward Mujica, primarily the eighth-inning setup reliever, picked up saves on May 3 at San Francisco and May 6 at San Diego.
But rather than juggle closer candidates, Guillen is giving Bell every opportunity to get his season on track.
"I think it was good for us, it builds his confidence," Guillen said. "To me, it's more important for him right now. I have confidence in him. His teammates have confidence in him. His teammates have confidence.
"I think every time he has a good outing, his confidence is going to build. The only way you are going to maintain confidence and maintain that confidence is by pitching. I will give him every opportunity to get there. I will take my chances."
Bell's last two appearances have been clean innings on few pitches. He retired the side in order on 13 pitches in the ninth on Wednesday at Atlanta in a non-save situation.
On Friday at Cleveland, he needed 10 pitches to lock down the one-run save.
Pitch location has been key for Bell, who has gotten in trouble when falling behind in counts and leaving pitches up.
"I think I'm pretty much 96-97 percent where I think I should be," Bell said. "I just need to go out there and prove myself every time I pitch. Just go out there and battle, keep the ball down and make my pitches."
Marlins wait for diagnosis on Bonifacio's thumb
CLEVELAND -- Emilio Bonifacio, the Major League leader in stolen bases, has proved to be one of the Marlins' most durable players. But he could still be headed to the disabled list.
The Marlins center fielder sprained his left thumb on Friday night, and he had an MRI on Saturday morning that revealed no break. His status will be updated after he is examined by Marlins physician, Dr. Lee Kaplan on Monday. The injury snapped his streak of 112 consecutive games played.
"This is a very tough part of the body, especially when you're trying to grip the bat," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "In my mind, I am waiting for the worst. Just to make sure, when it comes, I'm prepared for that."
The Marlins don't feel Bonifacio will need surgery, but he could miss about a week. If that's the case, the team may decide to place him on the disabled list, just to give the injury more time to heal.
On Monday, Bonifacio will be examined by Marlins physicians in Miami.
"Our doctors have to check on him," Guillen said. "He's not going to play the next couple of days. We're in the process right now of what we're going to do."
The injury occurred while Bonifacio was attempting to steal second base. On the play, he was thrown out by Indians catcher Carlos Santana.
Bonifacio had stolen 20 consecutive bags to open the season before being tossed out. Dating back to last year, the center fielder had swiped 21 consecutive bases, which is a Marlins record.
On the play, Bonifacio's left thumb jammed into second base. The momentum of the slide carried him past the bag.
When he was unable to grip the bat on Friday night, he was removed from the lineup. Bryan Petersen got the start in center field on Saturday.
"I feel a little better," Bonifacio said early Saturday afternoon.
Bonifacio's 20 steals are the tops in the big leagues.
If Bonifacio goes on the disabled list, Chris Coghlan is likely to be recalled from Triple-A New Orleans. Kevin Mattison, regarded as the best defensive center fielder in the organization, could be another choice. But Coghlan has more MLB experience, and he can play both left field and center field.
"Everybody has to step it up until he comes back," Guillen said. "That's what good ballclubs do. Good ballclubs step it up and try to fill the hole. Whoever is going to replace him, just be who they can be, don't be Boni. Just play your game."
He said on Saturday that he had a little more mobility in his left hand than there was the night before. However, there is some swelling he is dealing with.
Bonifacio slides head-first, and he said that is the first time he's ever jammed his thumb on a base.
Guillen cautions that players risk injury when sliding head-first.
"I love it, but it's very dangerous," Guillen said. "You put yourself in position to get hurt. Every time you go down, you have a chance to be hurt. It could be shoulders, elbows, arms, fingers, wrists. But, that's instinct. That's the way baseball players are. I wish people slide feet first, but baseball instincts are baseball instincts."
Bonifacio's streak of 112 consecutive games was the third most in the National League. Heading into Saturday, Joey Votto topped the list with 165 games, and Michael Bourn followed with 129.
Indians successfully implement shift on Morrison
CLEVELAND -- Logan Morrison is getting the lefty-slugger treatment at Progressive Field.
To Morrison's surprise, the Indians are using a dramatic infield shift when he comes to the plate.
It's the first time in his career that the opposition has employed a full shift, with the shortstop behind second base, the third baseman basically at shortstop and the second baseman in short right field.
In the Marlins' 3-2 win on Friday night, Morrison grounded out three times to the second baseman, who threw him out from the outfield grass.
"They were pretty good pitches that I got," said Morrison, who added he had never been dramatically shifted against in the past. "I kind of hit them on the ground to second base, which isn't really what I wanted to do there."
According to a hitting chart, the shift makes sense. This year, only 18 percent of the balls Morrison has put in play have been either at or left of where the shortstop would normally play.
To keep the defense honest, Morrison noted that he may drop a bunt in the direction of third base.
"I was going to bunt in that last at-bat," Morrison said. "I chickened out, because I don't really know how to bunt. I'm not above trying it."