Bell gets the call to join NL All-Stars
Padres closer had been Final Vote candidate; replaces Gallardo
SAN DIEGO -- You wouldn't think Angel Stadium would hold a special place in Heath Bell's heart, especially since he's spent his professional career with two teams from the National League.
But Bell grew up in Tustin, Calif., which is a long fly ball from where he and his family would watch games from the bleachers at Angel Stadium.
"[Angel Stadium] was at my back door," Bell said on Wednesday. "I grew up watching the Angels play. That's where my dad took me.
"That's where I wanted to be on the field as a player."
And that's exactly where Bell is heading.
On Wednesday, it was announced that Bell, who was one of candidates for the 2010 All-Star Final Vote sponsored by Sprint, was added to the National League roster in place of Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers.
Gallardo went on the disabled list on Tuesday with a strained left rib-cage strain.
"At first I was really happy and excited. Then I was really sad that he [Gallardo] got hurt, because I don't want anyone -- especially pitchers -- getting hurt around the league," Bell said.
Bell, who will participate in his second All-Star Game in as many years, didn't appear to have much of a shot at appearing in the July 13 game in Anaheim. On Wednesday, the latest round of voting totals had him fifth out of five Final Vote candidates.
National League manager Charlie Manuel made the selection.
Bell, who is tied with Francisco Cordero of the Reds for the most saves in the NL (23), was trailing first-place Joey Votto (Reds) in the Final Vote as well as Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals), Billy Wagner (Braves) and Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies).
Reached by phone on Wednesday, Bell seemed resigned to the fact that he wasn't going to be on the team. Still, Bell said he was thankful for those who voted for him.
"The fans have been huge. They're like, you should be there. They're more bummed than I am," Bell said.
As part of their campaign to help Bell earn a repeat trip to the All-Star Game, the Padres rang a bell every hour to remind those in their office to vote online for Bell.
Former NFL quarterback Troy Aikman, a minority owner of the Padres, gave Bell a plug on his Twitter account. Likewise, San Diego Chargers' Shawne Merriman and Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers gave their support for Bell on Twitter. Rodgers makes his off-season home in San Diego.
On Tuesday, Padres pitcher Chris Young, currently on the disabled list, stepped into the broadcast booth in Washington to ask fans to vote online for Bell. Young knows a little something about the Final Vote, having earned a spot on the 2007 All-Star team because of it.
"It's a huge honor. I would be lying if I said I didn't really care about the All-Star game, I think it's pretty cool. I had so much fun last year," said Bell, who was the losing pitcher in the game a year ago in St. Louis.
"For it to be an All-Star game in Anaheim - where my dad took me for the first time to see a baseball game and where I knew I wanted to be a Major League baseball player - it's just going to be more than words. I think my dad and mom are going to cry. It definitely makes more special (than last year) because that is the hometown team I grew up watching.
Bell didn't appear in Tuesday's loss to the Nationals. He's now tied with Reds' closer Francisco Cordero for the most saves (23) in the National League. Kansas City closer Joakim Soria leads the Major Leagues with 24 saves.
That hasn't diminished Bell's standing, especially in his own clubhouse.
"He's probably the No. 1 guy to go to whenever you need a shutdown inning," said Padres pitcher Mat Latos. "He's one of the best at what he does, that's why he's our closer. If there's going to be one more guy that's going to be [in the All-Star Game], it's got to be someone from our 'pen. He's done an unbelievable job so far this year."
Fans, having already decided the starters and this week the final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevy via the 2010 All-Star Game MVP Vote sponsored by Sprint on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.
The 81st Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports, and around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 5 p.m. PT.
ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.