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Bell not yet tolling for Heath — D-backs skipper sticking with his closer

LISTEN: Kirk Gibson, D-backs Manager

Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson is not one to overreact to a player’s struggles.

More the type to try to help a player through issues, the skipper has generally done a good job of pressing the right buttons with regards to his team.

So, when he says Heath Bell is still his closer even though the pitcher has served up home runs in each of his last five appearances, you know he does so because he believes the veteran can turn things around.

“It’s just part of what goes on on the field,” Gibson told Arizona Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo Tuesday. “We’re not the only ones struggling with things, whether it’s [the bullpen] or something else.

“You’ve got to hang in there, you’ve got to continue to give guys opportunities.”

Gibson, who noted that Bell is working through similar mechanical issues to the ones that plagued him at the beginning of the season, said he will continue to have confidence in his players and give them opportunities to fail if that’s what it takes.

“I’ve done it with all my guys, and certainly the veteran guys, you’ve got to stick with them, you’ve got to see,” he added. “In the end if they don’t have it then you make a different decision, but something tells me with their experience that they’ll figure it out, we’ll power through these tougher, more frustrating times.”

Bell, 35, is in his first season with the Diamondbacks, and he is currently sporting an ERA of 5.02 to go along with his 13 saves. He’s blown three save opportunities on the year, but prior to this recent down stretch had gone nine straight appearances without allowing a run.

So maybe Bell will rebound and start pitching better. Or perhaps he’ll continue to struggle and Gibson will make a change. Either way, former closer J.J. Putz is nearing a return from injury, and at that point the manager will have to make some decisions no matter what.

But until then, Bell is the guy, and he’ll be the one to take the mound if the D-backs have a save situation Tuesday night against the Nationals, right?

“I didn’t say that yet, but could be, yep,” Gibson said. “I got to talk to (pitching coach Charles Nagy), see how he’s feeling, we’ll watch his bullpen session and see where we’re at.”