Ozzie reiterates stance on closer Bell
Miami manager: 'I'm not going to kick the guy when he's down'
MIAMI -- Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen wanted to sleep on the team's closer situation following Saturday's win -- the second game in a row Heath Bell was removed in the ninth -- despite giving Bell another vote of confidence.
On Sunday morning, Guillen awoke with the same stance: Bell will remain Miami's closer.
"It's going to be hard for us to win if Heath Bell is not our closer," Guillen said Sunday. "My vote of confidence is there, but maybe a lot of people don't believe that. I'm the manager; I'm not going to kick the guy when he's down."
Bell has labored in save situations since signing with the Marlins in the offseason. He has an 8.47 ERA and has recorded saves just seven times in 11 opportunities -- which doesn't include Friday's and Saturday's ninth-inning struggles that earned him his first two holds of the season.
Bell was brought in to close the ninth inning of a three-run game Friday, only to give up a leadoff double and allow two runs before he was pulled with one out in Miami's eventual 7-6 win. A similar situation occurred Saturday, when Bell was able to record only one out in the ninth inning of a three-run game before Guillen pulled him with the bases loaded and the potential winning run at the plate.
Guillen spoke with Bell prior to Sunday's series finale against San Francisco and reiterated to him that he is still the go-to guy, and should the situation present itself Sunday, Guillen said Bell would be available to pitch despite appearances the past two days.
The key to getting Bell back on track, Guillen said, is to keep building his confidence. Guillen said he has been impressed by the closer's stuff this season, but just wishes he threw more strikes. Bell has walked 14 batters this year, compared to 10 strikeouts.
In the meantime, Guillen stressed that he doesn't mind taking the fall if Bell continues to struggle.
"It's easy to criticize. It's easy to bury somebody when he's down," Guillen said. "I think my job and my coaching staff's job is to continue to believe in him. ... I got to go by it and I will bite the bullets -- from the fans, from the front office, from anybody. That's what I'm here for -- to bite the bullet for my players."
Marlins call up Ruggiano shortly after trade
MIAMI -- Justin Ruggiano was one of the last people to find out he was traded to the Marlins on Saturday, but was more than pleased when he was called up to the big league club on Sunday.
The 30-year-old outfielder, who was acquired Saturday from the Astros in exchange for Minor League catcher Jobduan Morales, said he was asleep on Triple-A Oklahoma City's team bus in Albuquerque, N.M., when he missed the phone call informing him he had been traded.
It wasn't until three hours later that he woke up and saw a dozen messages from people on his phone.
"You wake up and you see the 12 on your iPhone and you kind of panic a little bit," Ruggiano said.
That panic quickly turned into relief and then joy when the Marlins selected his contract in order to give them another right-handed option in the outfield. To make room for Ruggiano, the Marlins optioned outfielder Kevin Mattison to Triple-A New Orleans and transferred right-handed pitcher Jose Ceda to the 60-day disabled list.
Saturday's deal marked the second time in his career Ruggiano has been traded. While in the Minors, Ruggiano was traded from one dugout to the other when the Jacksonville Dodgers traded him to the Montgomery Biscuits -- right before the teams faced each other.
"It's a little easier this time," Ruggiano said. "Being traded to a big league team is a little easier."
Ruggiano, who hit .325 in 39 games for Oklahoma City, fills the need for a right-handed outfielder while Austin Kearns is on the DL with a strained right hamstring and switch-hitter Emilio Bonifacio is sidelined for four to six weeks following thumb surgery.
With Kearns and Bonifacio out, and left fielder Logan Morrison playing first base since Gaby Sanchez was optioned to New Orleans, the Marlins have played lefties Chris Coghlan and Bryan Petersen in left and center field, respectively. Against Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner on Saturday, the Marlins started career infielder Donovan Solano in left, where he hadn't played since 2008.
Saturday's acquisition allows the Marlins to play Ruggiano in left field against southpaws while Coghlan and Petersen split time in center. Guillen said Sunday that Ruggiano would start the next time the Marlins face a lefty.
"We need one, we need a guy that can help us, a right-handed hitter to come off the bench," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "[Ruggiano] can bring a lot of things. I saw him play a few years with Tampa Bay. I think he can help us."
Slugger Stanton takes pride in batting average
MIAMI -- There's plenty for Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton to be proud of this month.
There's the walk-off grand slam he hit on Mother's Day, or the missiles he has hit off the auxiliary scoreboard in left field, the Budweiser Bar in left-center and the home run sculpture in center field at Marlins Park -- just four of his 10 May homers. There's even the handful of spectacular catches he has made in right field.
The thing Stanton is most proud of this month, though, is simple -- his batting average, which has gone from .247 at the end of April to floating around .300 in May.
"I don't like having a low average, period," Stanton said. "Even if I have a lot of homers, I don't like the whole 1-for-5 with a homer. Everyone else is like, 'Great game,' because you hit a homer, but I really don't like that."
Entering Sunday's series finale against the Giants, Stanton has been on a tear in May, hitting at a .333 clip (32-for-96), and he credits his rise in production to getting back into a normal routine that he lacked in April after missing most of Spring Training. One routine he wasn't doing in April that former Marlin Jeff Conine pointed out was that during batting practice, Stanton wasn't hitting to right field, which he did in the past.
Stanton got back to that routine and has turned things around this month. During the Marlins' current 10-game homestand, Stanton is 10-for-25 with four doubles, three homers and 10 RBIs entering Sunday. Miami manager Ozzie Guillen can barely recognize Stanton compared to who he was at the plate in April, and Guillen knows what to expect the rest of the season.
"If this kid hits .300, .290, .270, he's going to have a [heck] of a year," Guillen said. "He's going to drive more runs in and he's ready to hit a home run any time he makes contact. He's learning."
Tom Green is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.