Former D-backs reliever Heath Bell: ‘They wanted me to pitch in a way I’d never pitched before’

Feb 22, 2014, 10:40 PM | Updated: 10:41 pm

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, unless of course you’re former Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Heath Bell.

Bell, who was traded by general manager Kevin Towers to the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-way deal last December, pitched only one season in the Valley, and apparently he’s not exactly looking in his rear view mirror with a ton of memories to share.

In an interview with MLB.com’s Barry Bloom, Bell admitted he wasn’t surprised about the trade, after the team stopped calling on him to pitch late in the 2013 campaign.

“I was a little surprised, but not too much because in September they stopped using me,” Bell told MLB.com. “It wasn’t because they just wanted to use the kids. They were using me in the eighth inning and then all of a sudden I was pitching in really weird innings. I think the Rays were just interested in picking me up and K.T. [Towers] always says if there’s a good deal out there he’ll make a trade. It doesn’t matter who it will be. Maybe I just didn’t fit in their plans.”

A former three-time All-Star, Bell had his fair share of highs and lows as a member of the D-backs.

While the veteran reliever portrayed his frustration over a lack of use down the stretch, Bell wasn’t without his chances last season.

The Oceanside, Calif. native began the year as a setup man for J.J. Putz, and yet despite posting a 4.50 ERA in his first month on the job, Bell was named the team’s de facto closer when Putz went down in early May.

From May 7 to July 3, Bell converted 14 out of a possible 16 saves, allowing only nine runs during that span. But after a brief stint of success, the wheels began to fall off.

As Bloom detailed in his piece, Bell blew four of his first five second-half save opportunities, leaving the door open for Brad Ziegler to assume the closer position.

Following back-to-back rough outings (six runs allowed in 1 1/3 innings of work) on Aug. 28 and Sept. 1, Bell was reduced to more or less mop-up duty — pitching only seven times over the final three-plus weeks.

Ultimately, the well-traveled right-hander chalks up his up-and-down season in the desert as a product of philosophical differences with manager Kirk Gibson and his coaching staff.

“My pitching style is a little different than most pitchers and most closers,” Bell told MLB.com. “I wanted to go out there and pitch my style. We didn’t really see eye to eye after awhile. I always felt like I was trying to swim upstream. I try to mix up my pitches. Closers usually come in and pound the strike zone with fastballs. I have a good fastball, but not one that I can just blow by anybody.

“I like to go in and out, use both sides of the plate. I felt like they wanted me to go in a lot more. My style was more away, but I was trying to do their style. It was just tough. When the catcher and the pitcher really don’t see eye to eye it’s hard to go out there and have a really good game. They wanted me to pitch in a way I’d never pitched before.”

Bell, who will be pitching for his fourth different team in four years, has one-year left on a deal he signed with Marlins prior to the 2012 season. He also has a vesting option worth $9 million for 2015.

Penguin Air

Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel flips the rosin bag during the second inning o...
Wills Rice

D-backs avoid sweep with rollercoaster win vs. Tigers in Keuchel’s debut

Dallas Keuchel and the Arizona Diamondbacks secured an 11-7 win over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday in his debut with the team.
15 hours ago
Arizona Diamondbacks' Daulton Varsho (12) celebrates his three-run home run against the Detroit Tig...
Arizona Sports

Watch: D-backs’ Daulton Varsho clears pool to cap 5-run inning vs. Tigers

D-backs CF Daulton Varsho sent a 435-foot blast at Chase Field to punctuate a five-run sixth inning Sunday against the Detroit Tigers. 
2 days ago
Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel throws a pitch against the Detroit Tigers duri...
Alex Weiner

D-backs LHP Dallas Keuchel limits damage during inefficient team debut

Dallas Keuchel took the hill at Chase Field for the first time as a member of the D-backs Sunday and provided 4.1 innings.
2 days ago
Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Chicago White Sox pitches during the first inning against the New York Ya...
Arizona Sports

D-backs select LHP Dallas Keuchel to big league roster, will start Sunday

The D-backs selected LHP Dallas Keuchel from the Rookie ACL D-backs and the former Cy Young winner will make his first start on Sunday. 
2 days ago
Detroit Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson fields a grounder by Arizona Diamondbacks' Josh Roja...
Arizona Sports

Former ASU star Spencer Torkelson ‘trusting the process’ in rookie season

Despite his struggles to start his MLB career, former Sun Devil Spencer Torkelson is positive he will be able to turn things around.
2 days ago
Detroit Tigers' Javier Baez (28) is caught stealing by Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zach D...
Alex Weiner

D-backs drop 5th straight with loss to Tigers: ‘These are grinding times’

The Tigers took a 6-3 lead in the sixth inning Saturday night, and the D-backs never got the game-tying run to the plate.
3 days ago
Former D-backs reliever Heath Bell: ‘They wanted me to pitch in a way I’d never pitched before’