- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 25, 2012

ATLANTA (AP) - Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen brushed aside recent criticism from Heath Bell and said he doesn’t respect the Miami reliever.

Speaking on Tuesday about the team’s latest ordeal, Guillen said Bell is entitled to his opinion. But the manager added that he has received about 30 supportive messages from current players and those he managed with the Chicago White Sox from 2004-2011.

Guillen indicated that Bell has not fully accepted blame for his struggles on the mound this season.

“It was my turn this week,” Guillen said before Miami’s game in Atlanta. “Last week it was the pitching coach. The week before it was his teammates. Every week it’s something. That’s why I don’t respect him as a person. You have to have principles.”

Bell, who left San Diego to sign a $27 million, three-year contract with Miami as a free agent last winter, lost his job as the Marlins’ closer after posting an 8.47 ERA in his first 21 appearances.

During a radio interview Monday with Miami station WQAM, Bell said the Marlins need a manager “that everybody respects and looks up to.”

Bell said before Tuesday’s game that he did not intend to disrespect Guillen.

“I’m not retracting anything, but I never meant to criticize Ozzie,” Bell said. “Everything gets twisted.”

Bell added that his comments were “taken out of context” and that he plans to stop doing interviews with the media.

“I’m not talking anymore,” he said. “I didn’t mean anything toward Ozzie. I wasn’t talking about Ozzie.”

Guillen said that he perhaps stuck with Bell too long as the closer. Even though Bell has a 3.12 ERA since the All-Star break, the first half was such a flop that Guillen eventually gave the job to Steve Cishek, who has converted 14 of 18 save chances.

Bell has blown seven of 26 save opportunities, but his 151 saves over the last three-plus seasons lead the majors.

“I’ve got people calling me names every time he’s on the mound,” Guillen said. “In Spanish and English.”

The Marlins began Tuesday’s game with a 66-87 record, leaving them last in the NL East. They spent lavishly in free agency before opening a new $634 million ballpark with a retractable roof this season.

Guillen was suspended for five games in April because of comments he made that praised Cuban leader Fidel Castro in a magazine article. The remarks were not welcome in Miami’s Cuban community.

Disappointing results on the field caused the Marlins to trade slugger Hanley Ramirez, infielder Omar Infante, relief pitcher Edward Mujica and demoted first baseman Gaby Sanchez.

Outfielders Giancarlo Stanton, Logan Morrison and Justin Ruggiano, and utility man Emilio Bonifacio, have battled injuries. Carlos Zambrano was demoted from the rotation to the bullpen.

Guillen said Bell’s remarks did not surprise him.

“I laughed,” Guillen said. “I have so (many) problems in my life with the ballclub, to see why we failed _ comments like that, everybody has his own opinion. The thing that shocked me (is) when you say I’m not honest with players?”

Guillen believes Bell should have come to him before making disparaging comments on the radio.


AP freelance writers Amy Jinkner-Lloyd and Guy Curtright contributed to this report.

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