The circus atmosphere in the Miami Marlins clubhouse is growing. Demoted closer Heath Bell lashed out at manager Ozzie Guillen Monday in a radio interview, only for some of his teammates to publicly defend Guillen later that evening.
"It's been an interesting year with Ozzie," Bell told Miami station WQAM. "That's pretty much all I'll say about that. It's just been really interesting to have him manage."
Once radio host Dan Sileo pressed Bell, though, things took a turn for the worse.
"It's hard to respect a guy that doesn't tell you the truth or doesn't tell you face-to-face," Bell said. "There's probably reasons why."
Bell signed a $27 million contract with the Marlins last offseason, and promptly blew 4 of his first 7 save opportunities in 2012. He was demoted from the closer's spot soon thereafter, winning a brief reprieve in May before running into trouble again in July. In total, Bell has 19 saves in 26 opportunities this season.
"You know, I stunk in April, plain and simple," Bell continued. "I said I stunk, I worked hard, I busted my butt. I think the second half, I've had a tremendous second half. I'm not closing, I know that. But I just kept my mouth shut because I want to regain what I had, and I feel like I can't do that."
What Bell seems to forget is that Guillen waited until long after fans were calling for his demotion before taking his job the first time. To be fair, Bell has put up a 3.12 ERA in the second half, though those numbers were achieved in situations of much lower leverage than in the first half.
Miami was off on Monday, sitting at 66-87, last place in the NL East. Only five teams have worse records, even though the Marlins significantly upped payroll last winter in an effort to make the playoffs after moving into a new stadium.
Unfortunately for Bell, none of his teammates seem to share his antipathy for Guillen. OF Justin Ruggiano tweeted Monday night in response to a fan asking about the story (sic), "this is one persons opinion. We have a very close locker room."
Another teammate, speaking anonymously to the Miami Herald, said Guillen "has not lost the clubhouse." The player added, "We're not even talking about this if we had won."
Another player told the Herald, "He hasn’t done anything for me to say I’m dissatisfied. At least he knows my name, and the manager last year [Jack McKeon] didn’t even know my name."
One thing is for sure, it is highly unlikely that the 2013 Marlins will have both Guillen and Bell. Guillen has been the subject of hot seat rumors as of late, and the team is expected to attempt to trade the pricey Bell this offseason. He is due $18 million in salary over the next two seasons.
"That's the last thing going through my mind every day, if I'm going to have a job next year," Guillen said before the Marlins opened a road trip on Friday. He has not yet spoken publicly about Bell's comments, but when he does, people will surely be listening.