Heath Bell has a new lease on life as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and he has general manager Kevin Towers to thank for his resurgence.
Towers, who had a relationship with Bell going back to their days in San Diego, took a chance on the veteran hurler after he suffered a trying season in Miami.
While Bell’s career in Arizona got off to a rocky start, the 35-year-old has settled into the interim closer role quite comfortably in recent weeks.
Bell has posted a 3.28 ERA with 11 saves and 29 strikeouts in 24.2 innings pitched this season, a stark contrast from the 5.09 ERA and eight blown saves he suffered last year with the Marlins.
“It was a fresh start,” Bell told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug & Wolf Friday. “Kevin Towers blessed me with a fresh start in San Diego from New York and he’s blessed me with a fresh start out here in Arizona from Miami. He just said, ‘Hey come do, what you need to do and you’ll be fine.’
“I was just filling in and doing my thing and [closer J.J. Putz] unfortunately got hurt but he should be back in 2-3 weeks and we’re going to go from there.”
While Bell has filled in admirably for the injured Putz, the right-hander said he has no problem moving back to a set-up role, or answering any call from the bullpen.
“I am perfectly fine,” Bell stated. “Kevin Towers and Gibby talked to me this winter and I was perfectly fine to do whatever they need me to do. [Putz] is our closer. I don’t care if I have 20-some odd saves by the time he comes back, he’s still our closer. If they need me to close a game, they need me seventh inning, sixth inning, mop-up, that’s perfectly fine because I want to win.”
Bell credits his D-backs’ coaches for helping him get back on track after a mentally tough 2012 campaign, in which he felt he was constantly second guessed in Miami.
“It was just that confidence that coaches gave me and not second guessing me,” Bell said.
The D-backs’ reliever said he was particularly miffed when he found out he had lost his role as Marlins closer by reading in at the paper while at Walt Disney World. When he was finally told of the team’s decision, Bell said he questioned the way the matter was handled.
“The [Marlins] pitching coach just kind of stared me down,” Bell explained. “He told me exactly what I read and I go, ‘Why couldn’t you tell me this’ and he goes, ‘Well you seemed upset’ and I’m like, ‘But I am a grown man. I’m upset we lost the game. I am having a tough year.’
“I just couldn’t win. I literally had to strike everybody out otherwise it wasn’t good enough, and here Gibby, as long as I get the job done, he don’t really care.”