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Ozzie responds after Bell tries to clear the air

Ozzie responds after Bell tries to clear the air

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Ozzie responds after Bell tries to clear the air
ATLANTA -- Ozzie Guillen accepts criticism and being second-guessed. It comes with the territory. But the Marlins' manager takes issue when he is accused of not being honest or forthright with his players.

So on Tuesday, Guillen spoke out in response to comments reliever Heath Bell made Monday on "The Dan Sileo Show" on Miami radio, 560 WQAM.

"The thing that shocked me is, if you say I'm not a good manager, [or] I don't know how to handle the bullpen, [or] I don't know how to treat players, I can buy that one," Guillen said before Miami faced the Braves on Tuesday. "But when you say that I'm not honest with players? I never tell people in their face how I feel, you have to put a lot of doubts on that one.

"That's the best thing and the worse thing I have in my life. Not just baseball. Sometimes that helps me to be where I am. Sometimes that hurts me. People I have managed in the past. I had like 30 messages from people I managed in the past, they were like, 'Wow, they don't know you yet.'"

Bell, who lost his closer role in the second half, told WQAM on Monday: "It's hard to respect a guy that doesn't tell you the truth or doesn't tell you face to face. There's probably reasons why."

Bell, who signed a three-year, $27 million contract last December, feels he was never given a chance to regain the closer role he lost to Steve Cishek.

"I stunk in April, plain and simple," Bell said. "I said I stunk, I worked hard, I busted my butt. I think 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."

Bell's radio comments gained national attention, and on Tuesday, Bell said his remarks were misrepresented.

"I did not mean anything towards Ozzie in that aspect," Bell said. "But they wrote it that way. So everybody interpreted it that way. So now apparently I'm backtracking everything I said."

The Marlins are not taking any disciplinary action on Bell, and Guillen doesn't feel any is necessary.

After Tuesday, Bell said he plans to stop talking with the media.

"The only comment that I did say that was factual was, 'It's hard to respect somebody who doesn't tell you face to face,'" Bell said. "I'm done talking to you guys. Right now, I've got to earn the respect back to my teammates, to my coaching staff. Do I want to be back in Miami? Yes. Do I want to close? Yes. But Steve is doing a heck of a job, and I've always said that.

Although Bell hopes to return, he knows that is a decision that will be made by team owner Jeffrey Loria, president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest and the front office.

"After today, you won't hear from me until 2014, plain and simple," said Bell, referring to the year his contract expires. "I want to stay here. I've always said I want to build something in Miami, and I want to win in Miami. But that's up to Jeffrey. That's up to Larry, and all those guys up there."

Guillen on Tuesday had his chance to address the matter. He did so initially on his weekly segment on Miami radio, 790 The Ticket.

As a team, in the visiting clubhouse at Turner Field, Miami players -- including Bell -- sat at their lockers listening to Guillen's interview, which began at 3:30 p.m. ET.

The media was allowed to enter at the regular time, 3:40 p.m. for a 7:10 p.m. start. The radio feed blared throughout the clubhouse, and after a few minutes, veteran Greg Dobbs politely asked each member of the media to leave.

Afterward, Dobbs said that he or the players had no issue with anyone in the media. But that moment was for the players.

When the radio show ended, the media was allowed back in, and Bell spoke to reporters.

"All I have to say is what was taken yesterday on ESPN was out of proportion," Bell said. "I was not criticizing Ozzie one bit. I'm not retracting anything I said. But that report on ESPN News, it was like 80 percent of it was false. I've always had the respect, and I've always given Ozzie the respect.

"I've stunk this year, plain and simple. That's about it. Everything I say gets twisted. So I'm going to stop talking."

Guillen said more than 90 percent of the players have expressed their support. Some of those who didn't were younger players, or rookies who aren't in position to say too much.

Veterans like Dobbs and John Buck personally spoke with Guillen. Justin Ruggiano, who is back in Miami undergoing an MRI on his right shoulder, reached out to the manager. And so did catcher Brett Hayes, who finished up the season at Triple-A New Orleans.

A number of players didn't want to speak publicly on the matter.

But Mark Buehrle, who played for Guillen in Chicago, said the manager has always been a straight shooter.

"Heath put himself in this mess," Buehrle said. "I've never looked at Ozzie the way that he's saying. Everybody has got their own opinion. He obviously thinks that for some reason, and that's why he said it.

"You guys [beat reporters] know [Guillen]. He's face to face. Half the time he's too honest with people, so that gets him in trouble. Heath felt like he needed to comment on it."

Bell was the Marlins' closer through the All-Star break, where he converted 19 of 25 save chances. In the second half, he had one save opportunity, and he gave up the game-tying home run to Jayson Werth in a game the Marlins lost at Washington on Sept. 8.

Guillen noted that when he has an issue with a player, he is up front about it. Earlier this season, Guillen was displeased with Giancarlo Stanton.

"One day I was upset with Giancarlo," Guillen said. "As soon as he got to the ballpark, I said, 'I said, this, this, this about you. Just in case your teammates tell you what I say.'"

Guillen said he has lost respect for Bell because the reliever has had issues this season with the team's trainers, catchers, pitching coach Randy St. Claire and the reality TV show, "The Franchise," which aired on Showtime.

"It was my turn this week," Guillen said. "Last week, it was somebody else. It was the pitching coach. The week before that, it was the catchers. The week before that, it was the scouting report. When you make all these things, they keep piling up. It was 'The Franchise.' All kinds of stuff.

"That's why I don't respect him as a person, because you have to have principles. You have to learn how to look yourself in the mirror and blame yourself. That's why, before anyone else blames me, I blame myself. When something goes wrong or something goes right, that's the way it is."

Guillen added that he has plenty of respect for Adam Dunn, who struggled with the White Sox a year ago.

"I have the best example about being professional, Adam Dunn, last year," said Guillen, Chicago's manager in 2011. "I don't think anybody in the world could have had a worse year than that kid. He never blamed anybody. He never made an excuse. This year, I've got Buck. He's been like, 'This is my fault, I'm dealing with it. Hopefully next year I'll be better.'"

On Monday night, Bell left a voice message on Guillen's phone. The manager didn't answer because it was a California number he didn't recognize. And he erased the message, initially thinking it was the media.

"I erased the message before I hear," Guillen said. "Because no matter what he say, it's not going to resolve anything. But if I was sad, mad about it, then, we talk. I just feel funny, because I always say, when you have any problem with me, come and talk about it."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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