Bell in 2009 with the Padres
|Tampa Bay Rays|
September 29, 1977 |
|Bats: Right||Throws: Right|
|August 24, 2004 for the New York Mets|
(through 2013 season)
|Earned run average||3.39|
|Career highlights and awards|
Heath Justin Bell (born September 29, 1977) is an American professional baseball relief pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played for the New York Mets, San Diego Padres, Miami Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks. While playing with the Padres, he was a three-time All-Star and twice won the Rolaids Relief Man Award. He was also awarded the DHL Delivery Man of the Year Award and The Sporting News Reliever of the Year Award.
Bell played multiple sports, including baseball, in high school. He moved on to community college, where he was an All-American. He began his professional career with the New York Mets, making his major league debut in 2004, and spending three seasons at both the minor and major league levels. In 2007, he was traded to San Diego, where he was a setup pitcher before replacing Trevor Hoffman as the Padres' closer. From 2010–2011, Bell successfully converted 41 straight save opportunities, tied for the sixth longest streak in MLB history. A free agent after the 2011 season, he signed with Miami. The Marlins traded him after one season to Arizona.
Bell was born in Oceanside, California. He attended Columbus Tustin Middle School and Tustin High School in Tustin, California, which is about 50 miles (80 km) from Oceanside. He lettered in football, basketball, and baseball.
Bell attended Santiago Canyon College where he was named a freshman All-American in 1997. In 1997 Bell made two appearances in the National Baseball Congress world series while playing for the El Dorado Broncos. He did not give up any runs and was named the league's Graduate of the Year in 2011. He was selected by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 69th round of the 1997 amateur draft, but did not sign.
New York Mets
Bell did not begin his professional career until 1998, when he signed with the New York Mets as an undrafted free agent. He made his major league debut on August 24, 2004 pitching two scoreless innings with three strikeouts against the San Diego Padres. The righty spent the next two seasons shuttling between the Mets and their Triple-A affiliate Norfolk. Bell said coaches in the Mets' minor leagues told him his best opportunity to succeed was to leave the organization as other people did not believe in him.
San Diego Padres
On November 15, 2006, Bell was traded to San Diego, along with pitcher Royce Ring, for outfielder Ben Johnson and relief pitcher Jon Adkins. He was part of the Padres bullpen, where he replaced Scott Linebrink as the 8th inning setup man before Trevor Hoffman closed games. In 2009, Hoffman signed with the Milwaukee Brewers and Bell was promoted to closer. Bell sprints from the bullpen and into a save situation accompanied by the song “Blow Me Away” by Breaking Benjamin. Bell's save situations are referred to by fans as "Bell's Hell", a play on Hoffman's famous "Hells Bells".
In 2009, Bell was named MLB Delivery Man of the Month in April after converting all eight of his save opportunities in 8 2⁄3 scoreless innings of work while striking out nine batters. He was named to the National League (NL) All-Star Team on July 5. He, along with teammate Adrian Gonzalez, represented the Padres at the 2009 MLB All-Star Game in St. Louis on July 14. Bell came on in the 8th inning and gave up a triple to Curtis Granderson followed by a sacrifice fly to Adam Jones to make the score 4–3 in the American League's favor; Bell was the losing pitcher in the game. Bell ended the 2009 season leading the National League in saves with 42 in his first year as a full-time closer. He won the NL Rolaids Relief Man Award
In 2010, Bell was named to his second consecutive NL All-Star team in July. Starting May 29, he converted 34 consecutive saves to end the season, the longest streak by a Padres since Hoffman. Bell collected saves on a season-high four consecutive days from August 10–13. For the year, Bell had a career-high 47 saves, which ranked second in MLB and was second in team history behind Hoffman's 53 in 1998. Bell's .940 save percentage (47 of 50) led all of MLB. He did not allow any of his nine inherited runners to score, and he had six saves of more than one inning pitched. Bell won the DHL Delivery Man of the Year Award, The Sporting News NL Reliever of the Year Award, and the NL Rolaids Relief Man Award.
Bell was the highest paid Padres player in 2011 at $7.5 million salary and would be eligible for free agency at the end of the season. He converted his first seven save opportunities of 2011, which tied him with Hoffman for the Padres club record of 41 consecutive successful save conversions. The streak also tied him with Hoffman and Rod Beck for the then-fourth longest in MLB history. Bell blew his next save opportunity, a 3–0 lead, after he opened the ninth inning walking the first two batters, and third baseman Chase Headley made a two-out, two-run throwing error to tie the game. On May 14, Bell recorded his 100th career save in a 9–7 win over the Colorado Rockies. Bell was selected to his third consecutive All-Star game. Entering the game in the eight inning, Bell sprinted from the bullpen and did a slide in front of the pitcher's mound, taking out a chunk of the infield grass and leaving grass stains on his pants. "I wanted the fans to have fun with this," said Bell. With the team 12 games under .500 coming out of the All-Star break, general manager Jed Hoyer said the Padres would pursue a long-term contract with Bell if they did not get a desirable trade offer for him. Ultimately Bell was not traded at the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31, but Hoyer admitted Bell's greatest value to the team might come as a free agent if Bell refuses salary arbitration and signs elsewhere—the Padres would receive two first-round draft picks in June 2012 as compensation. Bell said he planned to accept arbitration from the Padres if they did not agree on a multi-year deal. He finished the season 43 of 48 in save opportunities with a 2.44 ERA, but he struck out less than 30 percent of all opponents’ at-bats for the first time as a Padre.
Bell wanted a three-year contract from the Padres, who instead offered two years with an option for 2014. Talks stalled after Hoyer left the Padres and was replaced by Josh Byrnes as general manager. The Padres offered arbitration, but Bell backed away from his earlier intention to accept arbitration. The Miami Marlins, the Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were also interested in signing him. Bell had a 27–19 record with a 2.53 earned run average and 134 saves in 354 appearances with the Padres over five seasons. His 132 saves in the last three seasons led the majors.
On December 1, 2011, Bell agreed to a three-year, $27 million contract with the Miami Marlins pending a physical. The deal became official on December 5. He was temporarily demoted from the closer role in May after beginning the 2012 season blowing four of his first seven save opportunities with an 0–3 record and an 11.42 ERA in 11 games. Bell said he had been battling an undisclosed personal issue, and he felt "completely lost" in Miami being apart from his family.
On May 11, 2012, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen placed Bell back to the closer role, and his ERA dropped below 10.00 later that month. He was again demoted after the All-Star break, when he was 2-5 with a 6.75 ERA and six blown saves in 25 opportunities, and Steve Cishek assumed the closer role. Late in the season, a rift between Bell and Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen developed with each proclaiming waning respect for one another. Bell acknowledged his teammates likely lost respect for him after the incident. Bell had an 0.69 ERA over his last 13 appearances before blowing a 3–0 lead in the eighth inning in his last game of the year. He ended the season 4–5 with a 5.09 ERA and 19-for-27 in save chances.
On October 20, 2012, the Marlins traded Bell to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team trade in which the Marlins acquired minor leaguer Yordy Cabrera. Arizona already had incumbent closer J. J. Putz. The Marlins agreed to pay $8 million of the remaining $21 million still owed Bell over the subsequent two years. He began the season as a middle reliever behind Putz and setup man David Hernandez. On May 8, Bell was promoted to closer after Putz was placed on the disabled list with a strained right elbow.
Tampa Bay Rays
Generally a power pitcher, Bell has averaged nearly a full strikeout per inning but also proved to be hittable in his 2005 sophomore season allowing 10.8 hits per nine innings and a very high 5.59 earned run average. Bell has a 94–98 mph fastball, usually sitting between 95 and 96. He also has an 11–5 curveball in the low 80s. Keith Law of ESPN wrote in 2011 that Bell has a straight fastball and pitches in the upper half of the zone, and benefited from pitching in the spacious Petco Park as a Padre.
Bell joined the Hope For Leadership Foundation, a Christian-based movement that promotes sports and civic programs for inner-city kids.
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- San Diego Padres (January 16, 2010). "Padres agree to terms on a one-year contract with right-handed pitcher Heath Bell" (Press release). Archived from the original on March 9, 2011.
- "Heath Bell Named Winner Of The Major League Baseball Delivery Man Of The Year Award | padres.com: Official Info" (Press release). San Diego Padres. October 13, 2010. Archived from the original on March 6, 2010. Retrieved October 14, 2010.
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- "Rolaids Relief Man Award NL Standings". Archived from the original on March 9, 2011. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
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- Jenkins, Chris (July 14, 2011). "Where will Bell's comedy act be playing next?". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on July 15, 2011.
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- Center, Bill (July 31, 2011). "Padres trade Adams, Ludwick; keep Bell, Harang". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on August 1, 2011.
- "Guzman keys late rally as Padres beat Rockies 8–3". Associated Press. July 31, 2011. Archived from the original on August 1, 2011.
- Center, Bill (August 1, 2011). "Bell says he intends to play for S.D. in 2012; Padres lose". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on August 2, 2011.
- Kahrl, Christina (December 1, 2011). "Nothing Fishy about interest in Heath Bell". ESPN. Archived from the original on December 2, 2011.
- Center, Bell (December 1, 2011). "Bell, Marlins agree on 3-year contract". San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on December 2, 2011.
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- "Heath Bell-Ozzie Guillen rift widens as teammates support manager". SportingNews.com. September 26, 2012. Retrieved October 4, 2012. "After being forced to listen to Guillen’s radio response Tuesday, Bell admitted that he likely lost the respect of those in the Marlins clubhouse."
- Capozzi, Joe (October 3, 2012). "Has Heath Bell pitched his last game for the Marlins?". The Palm Beach Post. Archived from the original on October 4, 2012.
- Tomasson, Chris (October 4, 2012). "Few bright spots in sour Marlins season". foxsportsflorida.com. Archived from the original on October 4, 2012.
- "D-backs acquire reliever Heath Bell". ESPN.com. Associated Press. October 21, 2012. Archived from the original on October 24, 2012.
- Baum, Bob (March 31, 2013). "2013 SEASON: Injury slows Diamondbacks' personality makeover". The Daily Courier. Archived from the original on April 8, 2013.
- Harris, Beth (May 8, 2013). "D-backs beat Dodgers 3-2 on homers by Goldschmidt". U-T San Diego. Associated Press. Archived from the original on May 27, 2013.
- Piecoro, Nick (May 8, 2013). "Arizona Diamondbacks’ Heath Bell assumes familiar role". azcentral.com. Archived from the original on May 27, 2013.
- Twitter / RaysBaseball: Rays, @Reds, @Dbacks complete 3-way trade. Rays get C Ryan Hanigan and RHP Heath Bell; send min. lg. RHP Justin Choate and PTBNL to D-backs.
- "Gameday 2007". mlb. Retrieved March 10, 2011.
- Law, Keith (December 2, 2011). "Heath Bell a mistake for Miami". ESPN. Retrieved December 2, 2011.(subscription required)
- "Player Bio Information". MLB.com. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
- Kurkjian, Tim (April 17, 2009). "Fun-loving Bell finally has his dream job". ESPN The Magazine. Archived from the original on March 20, 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Heath Bell.|
- Official website
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)