Heath Bell publicly critiqued Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen on Monday, and Guillen had his turn to lob criticism at Bell on Tuesday. A day after Bell reignited an ongoing feud with his manager, Guillen said Bell has not owned 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."
In an radio interview on Monday, Bell said "It's hard to respect a guy that doesn't tell you the truth," referring to Guillen. He also said the Marlins need a manager "that everybody respects and looks up to."
But on Tuesday, Bell sang a different tune, blaming the media (the easiest scapegoat for athletes under fire) for misconstruing his words. "I'm not retracting anything, but I never meant to criticize Ozzie," Bell said. "Everything gets twisted."
Bell added that he will not talk to the media any longer. "I didn't mean anything toward Ozzie. I wasn't talking about Ozzie."
"I laughed," Guillen said of his reaction to Bell's initial comments. "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. He also admitted that he probably stuck with Bell as the team's closer for too long during his struggles early in the season.
"I've got people calling me names every time he's on the mound," Guillen said. "In Spanish and English."
Bell has blown seven of 26 save opportunities this season. The Marlins signed him to a $27 million contract over the offseason. His 151 saves since 2009 lead the majors.
Adding an extra layer of bizarreness to the entire episode, Bell said he left Guillen a voicemail apology on Monday evening. The only problem: Guillen never heard it. He erased the message, not recognizing Bell's number on his caller ID. Guillen told the Palm Beach Post, "I thought it was one of the media asking me about what happened."