MIAMI -- Heath Bell no longer feels like he has to look over his shoulder.
When the Marlins' closer got off to a rough start this season by blowing four saves and twice being pulled in the ninth inning, the veteran said he often looked toward the bullpen to see if anyone was warming up if he didn't get the leadoff hitter out.
After giving up a leadoff walk to former teammate Adrian Gonzalez in the ninth inning of the Marlins' 4-1 over the Red Sox on Monday, Bell didn't even think to look to the bullpen in left field.
"It feels like I have more confidence," Bell said. "[Early in the season] I had the confidence leaving the bullpen, going out there, but as soon as I give up a hit or I walked a guy, it was almost like looking over my shoulder. ... I didn't even look behind me in the bullpen [Monday]."
Bell worked his way around the leadoff walk and struck out the next three hitters to earn his 13th save of the season and help the Marlins snap their season-long six-game skid. Since two consecutive outings on May 25 and 26, when Bell was pulled in the ninth after getting into jams, one of Miami's marquee offseason acquisitions has rattled off six consecutive saves and hasn't given up a run. His ERA has improved from 8.47 to 6.08.
Getting back on track and pitching like the reliever the Marlins expected when they acquired him, Bell isn't completely satisfied with his recent string of success on the mound -- unless he carries the success though the All-Star break in July.
"Until I start doing it long term, like I know I can, I won't be satisfied," Bell said. "Short term doesn't mean anything to me right now. I just got to keep building, earning my keep, doing my scouting report like I have been in the past and go out there and pitch Heath Bell-style of pitching.
"It's a little crazy, it's a little bit like a roller coaster, but it's fun."
Guillen seeking more consistency from Hanley
MIAMI -- A look at Hanley Ramirez's averages at home and on the road reflect the inconsistencies the third baseman has gone through.
At Marlins Park, Ramirez is batting .309 with five home runs and 20 RBIs. On the road, he's hitting .195 with six home runs and 17 RBIs.
"It's kind of weird," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I'm not a guy who checks numbers. I don't care about numbers, I care about wins. I can't believe Hanley is hitting better here than he is on the road. I thought it was the opposite."
The way Ramirez's season has gone, you don't know what to expect. When the Marlins took two of three at Philadelphia June 1-3, Ramirez was 4-for-14 with three home runs and four RBIs.
- 142 wins
- 110 wins
"Hanley has had huge hits for us, big ones," Guillen said. "Very inconsistent. I wish he had more consistency, day in, day out. But in the meanwhile, he's going to be my third hitter. Hopefully he's going to get better. To me, every day, we don't know what we're going to get."
Ramirez is batting .254 with 11 homers and 37 RBIs, but in the first seven games of the Marlins' homestand, the third baseman is 1-for-22.
Ramirez has protection in the lineup, hitting in front of Giancarlo Stanton.
"I think Hanley is going to have a good year," Guillen said. "He's been very inconsistent right now. Obviously, if Stanton stays hot, they've got to pitch a little more to [Ramirez]. Hopefully that helps."
Bonifacio may be back after the break
MIAMI -- Emilio Bonifacio had the stitches removed from his surgically repaired left thumb Tuesday, and the Marlins are eyeing the All-Star break for the center fielder's return.
"It's still the same plan," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I think he plans to get better before that ... because he heals pretty fast. But we have to stick with the plan and the plan is maybe right after the All-Star break. ... That's a pretty sensitive spot. He's got to get it strong."
Bonifacio sprained a ligament in his thumb while sliding head-first into second base on a steal attempt against the Indians on May 18. The Marlins placed him on the 15-day disabled list two days later, and Bonifacio underwent surgery to repair the ligament on May 25. He will begin rehab therapy on the thumb this week.
The team expected Bonifacio to be out four to six weeks after the surgery. The high end of that estimate would have pegged his return just before the All-Star break, but Guillen wants to play it safe with his speedy center fielder.
"He's a big guy in my plans about how we're going to play," Guillen said. "Hopefully, he'll be back before he should be, but we have to take our time with him."
Prior to his injury, Bonifacio was a terror on the bases for opposing pitchers. He had 20 stolen bags in 21 attempts, with the play that caused the injury marking the only time he was caught stealing. Despite the injury, Bonifacio's 20 steals are still tops in the Majors.
In Bonifacio's absence, the Marlins have used a platoon in center field, with Chris Coghlan, Justin Ruggiano and Bryan Petersen -- who was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans last week -- all seeing time.
"We miss his speed and we miss his toughness," Guillen said. "That kid is a spark for the ballclub. He gets everybody going, makes everybody ready to go. Of course we miss him. We miss his glove in the outfield. We miss his speed on the bases. We miss his energy."
Sentimental Interleague series for Cishek
MIAMI -- On the mound, it was just another appearance for reliever Steve Cishek, but on a personal level, it was special.
Cishek, who grew up in Falmouth, Mass., was a huge Red Sox fan growing up.
"Obviously it's a little different, because it's the team you grew up watching your entire life," the 25-year-old right-hander said, "but out there, it wasn't any different."
One of the promising young relievers in the National League, Cishek allowed one hit while registering a strikeout in the eighth inning against Boston in Miami's 4-1 win at Marlins Park.
Cishek openly roots for New England teams. During the Miami Heat playoff series with the Boston Celtics, Cishek attended one game at the AmericanAirlines Arena wearing a Ray Allen jersey.
As a kid, Cishek's favorite player was Nomar Garciaparra. He also was a fan of Derek Lowe and Bronson Arroyo.
"I was a pretty solid fan," Cishek said. "All the New England sports, my family cheered for them. I loved the Red Sox growing up as a kid. Nomar was my favorite player."
Early in the season, Cishek met and got an autograph from Garciaparra, now an ESPN analyst.
When the Marlins faced the Reds in Cincinnati in April, Cishek met Arroyo.
Cishek is a rising talent in Miami's bullpen. The right-hander with the sidearm delivery is 4-0 with a 2.03 ERA, striking out 27 in 26 2/3 innings.
On Monday, Cishek worked around a two-out single by retiring Dustin Pedroia on a grounder to third.
"Once the game went on, it was fine," Cishek said. "I wasn't even thinking about [facing Boston] when I was pitching."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. Tom Green is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.