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String of homers won't yet push Bell from closer role

String of homers won't yet push Bell from closer role


PHOENIX -- Despite serving up a home run in his fifth straight outing Saturday, Heath Bell will remain the D-backs' closer for the time being.

"Pretty much the way it is, he's going to be our closer," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "We want to get him turned around."

Armed with a one-run lead against the Reds, Bell gave up a two-run homer to Jay Bruce in the ninth inning, blowing his first save since May 12. He had converted nine consecutive opportunities before Saturday, but over his last five appearances he has surrendered a combined seven runs in four innings.

Bell struggled in the first week of the season as well, but from April 9 to June 7, he lowered his ERA from 15.43 to 3.28. After Saturday though, it is back up to 5.02.

"He's doing what he was doing earlier in the year; he's kind of gone back to that," Gibson said. "It's a little mechanical. He has to adjust it. You see him out there, he's virtually only throwing fastballs; he has no feel for his breaking ball. He doesn't have any direction on his fastball, either."

While Gibson is not ready to remove Bell from his ninth-inning role moving forward, the manager added that he might send out either David Hernandez or Brad Ziegler if the D-backs got in a save opportunity again Sunday.

"We'll see the situation," Gibson said. "Is the right thing to do to put [Bell] in the fire again, or give him a day off? I'm a strong advocate of defeating the beast. I don't know. We'll think about individual situations."

Once J.J. Putz (elbow) is ready to be activated off the disabled list, the closer conversations will become a moot point. The right-hander, who will take his place at the back end of the bullpen when he is healthy, is scheduled to pitch for Triple-A Reno on Monday and Tuesday before the club decides his next move.

Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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