Miami Marlins reliever Heath Bell was met with a parade of backlash regarding comments that he made on Sunday regarding embattled Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen. Bell previously stated the following after being egged on to comment about Guillen's currently troubled season:
"It’s hard to respect a guy that doesn’t tell you the truth or doesn’t tell you face to face,’’ Bell said Monday during an interview on The Dan Sileo Show on 560 WQAM in Miami.
"There’s probably reasons why. It’s probably one of those things, like you said, if I said something or I did something, I’m going to own up to it. What you see is what you get.’’
"We need a guy that leads us that everybody respects and looks up to," Bell said. "That’s what we need."
Well, it seems Bell did not mean exactly what he said, as he went on MLB Network Radio with Jim Duquette and Mike Ferrin to clear up his comments on Guillen. You can hear the entirety of the interview here. Here are the pertinent quotes:
Q: Was it misinterpreted somehow, your comments?
Heath Bell: "I think it was. I was never criticizing Ozzie. I don’t think that’s what I was doing on the radio. I was choosing my words kind of right. Apparently I didn’t get it too right but the thing is I respect Ozzie as a manager. Sometimes it’s hard to respect a guy when he doesn’t tell you face to face and tells you in the media. And that’s basically what I said. I never said I don’t respect him as a manager or a person. It is interesting, I think, to play underneath a manager like Ozzie because he talks to the press and he does a lot of things and he’s loud. But you know what? You know, I’ve had good managers, I’ve had bad managers and I don’t think Ozzie’s the reason why we really stunk this year. I think for me not performing to the next guy not performing. And that’s the reason we didn’t win this year. It’s not because of Ozzie. It’s getting totally blown out of proportion for the simple fact [that] everybody’s looking for a scapegoat. Everybody’s trying to point at Ozzie or somebody in this organization."
Color me unimpressed or not the least bit surprised that Bell rescinded his comments. He is basically claiming that, when he said a sentence regarding it being interesting to work under Guillen, then followed up by saying "It is hard to respect a guy who doesn't tell the truth or doesn't tell you face to face," he was making two unrelated statements and that the second one is not related to the first one. Either that or he is claiming that Guillen is not truthful and does not tell him what is going on face to face, but that this does not prevent him from respecting Guillen.
In the interview on Sirius XM, he flat-out stated that he respects Guillen as a manager, but it seems hard to believe after he made comments insinuating Guillen was dishonest to the media. This sounded more like an apology and a backpedaling in the face of public outcry regarding the statements. He certainly did not retract his words, but rather state that the media misinterpreted their meaning, but it seems very difficult to misinterpret what he said as anything other making a characterization of Guillen without outright saying it.
Heath Bell's season has gone poorly and his relationship with his manager seems rocky at best. No amount of backpedaling will solve that, so if Bell's solution is to be quiet on the media front as he mentions later in the interview, it may be a good idea. He has certainly had enough foot-in-mouth situations this year to keep him through at least next season.