Aug. 11, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Heath Bell reacts in the ninth inning after giving up a home run to New York Mets batter Wilmer Flores at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Heath Bell was supposed to help out the bullpen when he came to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2013. Instead all he did was blow save after save when it mattered most and the D’backs simply stopped using him in that role. So naturally no one should be surprised that he has no fond memories of his time in Arizona. In an interview with MLB.com National Reporter Barry Bloom, Bell sounded off on his time and experiences with the Snakes. Bell was traded this offseason so the Dbacks could dump his salary to the Tampa Bay Rays and is now preparing for the 2014 season. He talked with Bloom about the trade saying he really wasn’t that surprised. “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.”
Bell, a three-time All Star had his fair share of struggles with the Snakes after a rough season in Miami the previous year. Bell attributes most of his struggles to philosophical differences between him, Manager Kirk Gibson, and the rest of the 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. They wanted me to pitch in a way I’d never pitched before.”
That last statement really told the tale of his 2013 season. Based on what he said I guess its a good thing for Bell and the Dbacks to have parted ways. The team’s bullpen is better without him especially after he blew so many saves over the course of the season. Bell will be playing with his fourth team in four years as he tries to get back to the form he had in San Diego when he was one of the best closers in baseball.