SAN FRANCISCO -- Out with the old Carlos Zambrano, and in with the new.
The 30-year-old Marlins right-hander has a renewed and relaxed demeanor since becoming a member of the Miami Marlins.
After a tumultuous tenure with the Cubs, Zambrano has kept his emotions in check.
"Actually, I feel like I'm a new Carlos Zambrano because the old Carlos Zambrano would be throwing a chair and screaming at his teammates," said Zambrano, obtained from the Cubs for Chris Volstad.
Zambrano has been one of the most pleasant surprises for the Marlins. In five starts, he has a 2.53 ERA.
On Wednesday night, the 30-year-old was impressive in a no-decision against the Giants at AT&T Park. Zambrano was in line for the win after throwing seven scoreless innings.
Actually, in three of his starts he has had a chance for the win, but in all three games, Miami had ninth-inning leads disappear.
Four of his outings have been quality starts, and he has pitched at least six innings in every start.
While the Cubs, Zambrano's temper often got the best of him. In the past, you'd see him get enraged when things didn't go his way on the mound. Now, you see him smiling.
He credits his faith for becoming more at ease.
"I'm enjoying the game," Zambrano said. "When you have Jesus in your heart, what else can you ask? If I had found Jesus five years ago, I wouldn't have had problems in Chicago. But things happen for a reason."
Guillen decides to stick with Bell as closer
SAN FRANCISCO -- Heath Bell has too much history of success for Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen to pull the plug right now on the veteran.
So, after a night of thinking it over, Guillen on Thursday gave a vote of confidence to the embattled Bell.
"I'm going to give Bell every opportunity out there to fail again, because we are a better ballclub with him as the closer," Guillen said. "And I want him to be the closer. And he's getting paid to be the closer. That's why we signed him to be the closer."
Bell is going through a rough spell, having saved three of six chances. Technically, he wasn't tagged with a blown save Wednesday night, but he was charged with the two runs the Giants scored in the ninth inning to set up extra innings.
Steve Cishek inherited Bell's runners, but minimized the damage, and the Marlins won, 3-2, in 10 innings.
Neither Bell nor Cishek were available for Thursday's series finale with the Giants.
Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb were the first options if there were a save opportunity. The Marlins are hoping to also rest Cishek on Friday, when the team is at San Diego.
"I wish I can stay away from Cishek for a couple of days," Guillen said. "We need him, but this guy's career is more important than winning another game."
The Marlins signed Bell to a three-year, $27 million deal last December. While with the Padres from 2009-11, Bell's 132 saves were the most in that span.
"I've told people, we are a better team with Bell closing," Guillen said. "There's no doubt. That's what we want. That's what I want. I never manage it for the fans. I never manage it for the owners. I manage it for the ballclub. Obviously, we need wins."
Physically, Guillen says Bell is fine. His velocity has been between 92 and 94 mph.
"I worry about location and I worry about strikes. Arm strength is fine," the manager said. "The ball is coming out of his hand pretty good.
"He's throwing the ball good, but he's not getting people out. It's not easy to have patience. It's not easy to lose games that way, but we are a way better ballclub with him as a closer."
Guillen understands people's impatience.
"It drives me crazy more than anybody else," he said. "I'm the one who put him there. I'm the one who takes him out. I'm the one who is taking the blame. All those people worry about it, relax. Chill."
Cishek making a name for himself with Marlins
SAN FRANCISCO -- All the taunting and ribbing doesn't bother Steve Cishek. The 25-year-old Marlins reliever, with his deceptive delivery and hard name to pronounce, has pretty much heard it all.
Cishek (pronounced SEE-shek) often hears people butcher his name. A rangy, 6-foot-6, 215-pounder, many of his friends just call him Shrek.
In time, Cishek likely will become more known. Miami fans certainly are aware of the right-hander, who is in his second big league season. As his career progresses, he has the type of talent to become a popular household name.
Cishek made a key appearance Wednesday night, throwing two scoreless innings in relief of Heath Bell at AT&T Park. The sidearm-throwing right-hander was credited with the victory in Miami's 3-2 win over the Giants in 10 innings.
A fifth-round pick in 2007 from Falmouth, Mass., Cishek heard his share of heckling Wednesday night as he warmed up in the bullpen.
"They just try to wear me out and call me various names," Cishek said. "It's funny. It's fun. You name it, they said it. Whatever you can imagine, go ahead.
"But I don't let that stuff bother me. They are just trying to have a good time. They deserve to. It actually gets you going a little bit more. It's freezing out there, and it warms up you a little more."
Cishek's numbers and pure stuff give the Marlins reason to believe he can handle any role, even though he has just 60 games of big league experience.
"I said last week, the guy who impressed me most on the Miami Marlins all year long was him. Since Spring Training," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "This kid has got a chance to be a good one."
In 12 appearances, Cishek is 3-0 with a 0.79 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.
"I don't think he's even touched the iceberg in how good he can get," catcher John Buck said. "It's the deceptiveness. It's the not very common arm angle -- ankles and elbows going everywhere. He's going from the side and the way he kind of jumps out at you."
The deceptive movement of Cishek's pitches makes him especially difficult on right-handed hitters. He's got a nasty sinker, and his fastball sneaks in on hitters.
"And he has a slider that he really spreads the plate with it. It's hard when he's throwing 95 and has a high 80s slider. For a hitter, it's tough to cover both."