Wednesday morning, as a guest of Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf, Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers said reliever Heath Bell is “everybody’s whipping boy,” and not “quite as bad as everybody thinks he is.”
Wednesday evening, Bell entered a the D-backs trailed 2-1 and left with them down 5-1. He allowed a pair of home runs — the 11th and 12th he’s surrendered this season — and saw his ERA balloon to 4.21 on the season.
A rough outing, sure, but not one D-backs president Derrick Hall was ready to fret over. A guest of the same show Thursday morning, he said Bell has proven his value to the team.
“I think Heath has done a lot of good for this club,” Hall said. “I think it’s magnified because he does pitch so much.”
Bell is third among innings pitched by D-backs relievers, trailing only Josh Collmenter and Brad Ziegler. However, his ERA is higher than those of only Joe Thatcher and Chaz Roe, and he’s allowed the most home runs of anyone to come out of the team’s bullpen.
The 35-year-old also leads the team with 15 saves, but his seven blown saves are tied for third in all of baseball.
But the way Hall sees it, Bell is the type of pitcher who is willing to take the ball and throw even when he’s tired or not feeling great, which was the case Wednesday night. However, the night before he earned a win after pitching a 1,2,3 tenth inning.
“We’re not focused on that Tuesday night game, where other than Collmenter, everybody that came out of that bullpen struggled and gave up runs and had a hard time putting a zero up on the board, yet he comes in in the top of the ninth and shuts it down and was willing to pitch another if he had to,” he said. “And I’m sure he went up to [manager Kirk Gibson Wednesday] during batting practice and said, ‘Count me in if you need me.'”
And, Hall added, the majority of games Bell has appeared in were close, meaning he is inherently more likely to, if he struggles, lose a lead or see a close game get out of reach.
“He is a good guy to have in the clubhouse, he’s a wonderful guy, he cares, he tries,” Hall said. “He certainly doesn’t want to blow leads, and he’s done a lot of good as well.”