Ozzie: Bell 'main guy' despite struggles
Guillen gives closer vote of confidence after pulling him again
MIAMI -- Manager Ozzie Guillen has no doubt in Heath Bell's role as Miami's closer, and gave him another vote of confidence before Saturday afternoon's game. Even after another ninth-inning struggle by Bell on Saturday, Guillen reiterated that Bell is "the main guy" moving forward.
"He's our main guy and we're going to continue to give him opportunities to get the ball out there," Guillen said after Saturday's 5-3 win against the Giants. "The only way you're going to come out [of it] is pitching -- pitching and create confidence."
Less than 24 hours after Bell couldn't get out of the ninth in Friday's 7-6 win against San Francisco, Guillen stuck with his closer in a similar save situation Saturday, and once again Bell struggled to get outs.
With the Marlins up, 5-2, thanks to 7 1/3 solid innings from Mark Buehrle, Bell came on for the ninth and again failed to retire the leadoff hitter, surrendering a single to Angel Pagan. Bell then loaded the bases on back-to-back walks with one out, which prompted Guillen to pull him from the game.
"Same guy, same inning, with the seven, eight and nine hitters coming up and the same thing happens," Guillen said. "Wish he could've done a little bit better, but right now, it's not working."
While Steve Cishek cleaned up the mess Friday night to secure the win, lefty Randy Choate came in and retired the only two batters he faced to clinch the 5-3 win for Miami on Saturday.
Guillen's decision to pull Bell for the second time in a row came a day after Guillen expressed doubt in Bell's pitch selection during the ninth inning of the Marlins' eventual win Friday night.
"It makes you wonder," Guillen said. "I mean, what's he thinking? I don't blame him one bit, because he might've done it before, but you're up by three runs and the pitch selection, it was very poor."
Before Saturday's game, Bell remained confident in Friday's pitch selection, adding that he's "not going to be second-guessed," and that he was displeased with being pulled because he felt he could have gotten out of the situation.
"I'm going to go out there and do the best I can," Bell said. "I don't feel like I'm going to lose my job. The only thing I can say is, to his credit, I have not earned my right in a Marlins uniform to get myself out of the jam. I've gotten myself out of many jams in the past, but I haven't earned that right in a Marlins uniform yet."
Following Saturday's struggles, Guillen once again gave Bell a vote of confidence.
"I will take the heat if something goes wrong; I don't mind that," Guillen said. "But in the meanwhile, we got to get it done. I don't have any more bullets to protect him. ... The opportunities are there. We never take the ball away from him yet.
"We're a better ballclub with him up there and nobody's going to tell me any different. I'm still behind him."
Jennings caps hectic day with first victory
MIAMI -- When Dan Jennings arrived at Marlins Park shortly before first pitch Friday night, his first Major League win was the last thing on his mind -- especially with Josh Johnson and Giants righty Tim Lincecum going toe to toe on the mound.
But that's just what happened when Jennings entered the game in the sixth with the Marlins trailing, 3-1, and pitched a perfect inning, recording his first career strikeout in the process.
Miami scored five runs in the bottom of the frame, giving Jennings the victory. He got the ball from the strikeout and the night's scorecard as keepsakes.
"To see those two guys starting ... it was a crazy deal to come back up and see those guys square off," Jennings said. "As a reliever you don't think much about wins, because it's not really a stat you strive for."
The win capped a whirlwind day for Jennings, who was recalled Friday after the Marlins optioned struggling reliever Mike Dunn. Jennings was with Miami's Triple-A affiliate, the New Orleans Zephyrs, in Reno, Nev., on Thursday when he got the call, and was on the earliest flight he could catch to Miami -- one that left at 7 a.m. MT in Reno.
From there, Jennings flew three hours to Dallas before a 90-minute layover and another 2 1/2-hour flight to Miami. He arrived at Marlins Park about 30 minutes before first pitch.
"It was pretty chaotic," Jennings said. "The whole day I was traveling I was worrying about how I was going to get a throwing program in."
Jennings got to the Marlins' clubhouse, threw on his jersey and started tossing the ball down on the field at 6:55 p.m. ET. He originally thought first pitch was at 7 p.m., but found out it was actually a 7:10 game and called the extra 10 minutes "pretty much monumental."
When Jennings relieved Johnson in the sixth, those extra 10 minutes before the game appeared to pay dividends. Jennings got Angel Pagan, who is hitting .397 in his last 15 games, to ground out to open the inning before striking out Aubrey Huff and getting Joaquin Arias to line out.
"I didn't know if I was going to pitch, if I wasn't going to pitch, I just really had to put that thought in my head to be ready, despite everything that went on, despite the day," Jennings said. "Routines and everything went out the window -- just basically had to be in the moment and be ready to get here."
Marlins glad to give Solano chance in outfield
MIAMI -- Donovan Solano hasn't played left field in four years, but the recently recalled utility infielder ventured into the outfield for Saturday's matchup with the Giants.
With left-hander Madison Bumgarner toeing the rubber for San Francisco and Miami hitting just .224 against southpaws this season, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen wanted another right-handed hitter in the lineup. He put Solano in left field while moving lefty Chris Coghlan into center and giving the left-handed Bryan Petersen the day off.
Donovan last played in left field in 2008, when he was with the Palm Beach Cardinals in the St. Louis Cardinals' organization. He played one game there that season and had one putout in one chance. Donovan, who was called up last Sunday when the Marlins placed Emilio Bonifacio on the disabled list, has been working before games on fielding in left.
"It's not the same, obviously. It's not the same," Guillen said. "This kid is a baseball player. This kid, you can tell him to put catching gear and he will put the catching gear on. He's a baseball player and we're going to try that."
If the experiment goes awry, Guillen said he can always make a switch late in the game with either Petersen or left-handed Kevin Mattison.
Despite the lack of experience fielding the position, Guillen believes Solano has earned the opportunity, pointing to his impressive Spring Training. During Spring Training, Solano had 18 hits -- third behind Hanley Ramirez's 20 and Jose Reyes' 19 -- and recorded 55 combined putouts and assists in as many chances in the field.
"It was a shame that kid didn't make the club out of Spring Training," Guillen said. "He's the best player we have overall. Out of 60 players we bring to camp, he was the best one. He opened a lot of people's eyes. He put himself in a great place because he went to camp just to fill up a hole. Now he's opening our eyes and having the opportunity to have a career in the big leagues."
Tom Green is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.