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Bell's hold on D-backs' closer role tenuous

The SportsXchange

Heath Bell remains the Diamondbacks' closer, but his hold on the job appears quite tenuous after a stretch in which he gave up home runs in five straight games.

"Pretty much the way it is, (Bell) is still going to be our closer. It doesn't mean today we might use somebody else, possibly," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said before a 4-2 loss to Cincinnati on Sunday, when the D'backs did not have a lead to preserve.

"You want to get him turned around. Is the right thing to do today to put him in the fire, or is to let him have a day of work, have a day off, work a little more and work him back in in a better situation? That's kind of how we did it before."

Bell had converted nine consecutive save opportunities before failing to hold Patrick Corbin's 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth inning Saturday, and he is 2-1 with a 5.02 ERA and 13 saves in 16 opportunities. Most of his save chances have come since J.J. Putz went on the disabled list with a right elbow strain May 8, and Putz is expected back later this week after finishing a rehab assignment at Triple-A Reno. He has made two appearances there so far.

"Plain and simple, I just need to execute pitches better. But I don't think my teammates were down or put their heads down at all, and I'm not going to do the same. They went out and beat one of the best closers in the game," Bell said after Saturday's game, which the D'backs rallied to win, 4-3, in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Right-handers David Hernandez and Brad Ziegler were candidates to close Sunday's game, Gibson acknowledged when asked before the game. Gibson added that he would not rush into any change.

"He's saved quite a few games for us, too. Sometimes I think people overreact. It's a tough game. You want everybody to be perfect. It just doesn't work that way. I would, too. And so would Heath Bell. So would J.J. So would every player on the team. It's a tough deal. I just don't want to overreact to a frustrating situation," Gibson said.
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