05/02/12 2:11 AM ET
Marlins skipper has confidence in Bell
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
"My daughter called me up, and asked me, 'Does your arm hurt? What's wrong? You're usually really good,'" said the Marlins' closer, rehashing a conversation with his 13-year-old daughter, Jasmyne.
During this road trip, Bell will get to see his wife and children when the team travels to San Diego on Thursday night.
The veteran closer's family continues to make San Diego home, and they will see him more once school ends.
Bell is going through a rough stretch.
Before earning the save in Tuesday's 2-1 victory with a perfect ninth inning, the right-hander had blown three of his five save chances. And in Monday's 9-5 loss to the D-backs at Marlins Park, Bell entered in the ninth inning with Miami already down by two runs. The margin became four runs after the right-hander gave up two more.
Manager Ozzie Guillen continues to give Bell votes of support, maintaining the All-Star is not in danger of losing his closer role. At least, not right now.
"I think he threw the ball a little bit better yesterday, even though the result is not what we like," Guillen said Tuesday. "He has to make an adjustment. He's our closer. We are a better ballclub when Heath Bell is in the closer spot.
"If this kid continues to struggle, then we have to do something different. Something I don't want to do, but on the other hand, something I'd have to do. This team is desperate for wins. Not just to put in the winning column, but for the team."
Bell is using the poor April as a learning experience.
"My son who plays ball, he's 8," Bell said. "He gets really ticked off if he doesn't get a hit or something like that. I think this is a perfect way to teach him, 'Hey, it's OK. Even though you've had great years, you can struggle. You have to keep fighting.'"
Guillen getting close to shaking up offense
SAN FRANCISCO -- Flying cross-country gave Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen plenty to think about. He gave serious thought to making dramatic changes to a struggling lineup.
But after giving the matter plenty of thought, Guillen decided to stay the course, at least a little bit longer.
"If I make a major, drastic change with the lineup, then I'm going to show them the tendency to panic," Guillen said Tuesday before the Marlins opened a three-game set with the Giants at AT&T Park.
Guillen quickly qualified that he may be forced to shuffle things around in a few days if the results don't start improving immediately.
In April, the production simply wasn't there.
Miami's 73 runs scored were the fewest ever by the franchise in March and April combined. The team batting average in the first month was .228, which only tops the .220 mark the 1996 club posted.
"I've sent a message," said Guillen, who threw early batting practice at AT&T Park on Tuesday afternoon. "The leash has got to be shown. You're talking about 50 at-bats, 70 at-bats."
What Guillen wants to see is better approaches and quality at-bats.
"Right now, we're not swinging at strikes," the manager said. "If you're not swinging at strikes, you're going to see the same game every day. We're not making adjustments. We have to make an adjustment very quick.
"But if things don't change the next couple of days, obviously, we have to do something about it."
Dobbs says Marlins can turn things around
SAN FRANCISCO -- Talent isn't the issue. Performance is.
"Do we have the talent? Absolutely," Marlins veteran Greg Dobbs said. "No question. All of baseball knows that we have the talent. Are we underachieving? Absolutely, we're underachieving."
Miami's 8-14 record in April reflects the frustrations that have engulfed the team the past few weeks.
"Baseball is a funny game," said Dobbs, who was on a World Series championship team in Philadelphia. "Just because you did it before, just because you were there before does not guarantee you're going to do it again. You've got to earn it. Every year is different. This year is a perfect sign of that."
The Marlins are trying to turn things around in the ballpark where they last enjoyed a string of success.
A year ago, the Marlins came into San Francisco, completed a three-game sweep and exited appearing to be riding on a high.
Shortly afterward, the 2011 campaign began to unravel. Injuries and inconsistencies caught up to the club, and 2011 turned into a disappointing 72-90 campaign.
Much has changed since the Marlins exited San Francisco on May 26, 2011. They were 29-19 at the time.
Now, after a disappointing 8-14 April, the Marlins are looking to generate some positive momentum.
Since their last trip into San Francisco, the Marlins are 51-85. They've been outscored 603-495.
"Is it an issue? Yeah," Dobbs said of a pattern of losing. "I know we have to focus on the fact that we have so much talent in this clubhouse, and there is so much talent on this team. We can, we will and we should turn it around as soon as possible. There is no reason why we should be where we're at. But we are.
"We all have to look at each other in the mirror at the end of the day. 'Did I do everything I can do? Have I done everything I can do? And what can I do to improve myself to help this team win every day?'"