NEW YORK -- Shortly after signing as a free agent with the Marlins, Heath Bell was waiting at the airport for his flight to Miami.
To kill time, the veteran reliever went on his Twitter account and interacted with fans. It was his way of reaching out to the public, and Bell enjoyed the light give-and-take.
But during the season, Bell has experienced the downside of social media. The 34-year-old has had a rough year personally, and the Marlins are sitting in last place.
The more he struggled, the nastier the comments that came to him on Twitter. When rude comments were made about Bell's family, the reliever decided to shut it down. He no longer is on Twitter, and he rarely goes onto Facebook.
"Twitter would get really personal," said Bell, who is 19-for-26 in save chances this year. "People were saying stuff about my family. Say stuff about me. I stunk this year, I really did. Early on, in April, hopefully no one has a month like that.
"I decided to get off all of it. It was hurting my family. My daughter, she is 14. She was reading it, feeling hurt. My wife was reading it. I wasn't looking at it for the longest time, because I knew negative comments were there. It was wrong. It's so easy to write stuff on Twitter. You're not accountable for it."
As a big leaguer, dealing with negative comments comes with the territory. It happened in the past, when Bell was with the Padres. He would routinely hear it from opposing fans.
"There were a lot of San Francisco fans riling things up all the time," Bell said. "My wife was getting mad. But I was doing good in San Diego."
Bell is striving to finish the season strong, and doing what it takes to have a bounce-back year in 2013.
Performing at a high level in the big leagues is tough enough without distractions. So Bell isn't getting caught up in the negativity of social media.
"It just wasn't helping," Bell said.