Marlins banking on Bell to save

Juan Carlos Oviedo met with the media on Tuesday morning at the Marlins’ complex in Jupiter, Fla.

The 30-year-old reliever is serving an eight-week suspension due to issues regarding his identity.

Oviedo, formerly Leo Nunez, has been the Marlins’ closer in the past. But when he is eligible to be reinstated on July 23, his role projects to be a seventh or eighth inning setup reliever.

Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest told reporters in Jupiter today that the team is counting on Heath Bell to close.

“We have a closer. I know he’s been in the news quite a bit — he did a great job yesterday — but he’s our closer,” Beinfest said.

Manager Ozzie Guillen is sticking with Bell in the closer role. On Monday, the right-hander saved his eighth game in 12 chances in Miami’s 5-3 win over the Nationals.

Beinfest was asked about Bell’s up and down season.

“It’s been an interesting go,” Beinfest said. “I don’t think anybody anticipated when you go out and get a guy that has had the success that Heath’s had the past three years as a closer. … You don’t anticipate the struggles that he’s had, but it’s happened and Ozzie believes in him, we believe in him as an organization.

“He just needs to go out and do it and feel good about himself. Change can be good, and I know that’s a thing out there, but maybe the change has been a little bit different for him with the new ballclub and coming to the East Coast, but it’s no excuse. The quality of the pitches is still there and you can see he can do the job. He just needs to do it consistently.”

Bell struck out two and retired the side in order on Monday.

“Let’s hope he can get that consistency going and that yesterday will be the start of that and we’ll move forward,” Beinfest said. “You never want to lose some games that you’re leading in the ninth inning, and that’s why he was hired, to maintain that lead for us.”

Joe Frisaro


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