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Struggling Heath Bell still Marlins' closer

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer
After signing a three-year, $27 million contract this past offseason, the start of the 2012 season for Marlins closer Heath Bell has been an unmitigated disaster. He has as many blown saves as actual saves (three each).

For now, though, his job as closer is safe. Manager Ozzie Guillen told reporters Thursday that he isn't ready to give up on Bell (Joe Capozzi via Twitter). He is unavailable Thursday, but that's because Bell has thrown in three straight games.

The rest of Bell's line looks as bad as only closing half his save chances, if not worse. He has an 11.74 ERA, 2.74 WHIP and more walks (eight) than strikeouts (five). The 5.9 strikeouts per nine (K/9) rate is the lowest of his career and well below the 9.2 career K/9 mark. He's also even hit a batter, which he'd only done seven times previously in 435 games.

Small sample size? Of course, but there's little doubt pretty much everything we've seen to this point is alarming. His strikeout rate declined in a big way from 2010 to 2011, too.

Still, Guillen is sticking with Bell. We'll find out if it's the right decision through the course of the season.

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