CHICAGO -- Padres closer Heath Bell earned his Major League-leading 36th save of the season on Tuesday, though he has his mind on a different number these days.
The Major League single-season saves mark of 62 saves set by then-Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez in 2008? No, that's not it.
Trevor Hoffman's franchise record in 1998, which happened to be 53 saves? That's not it either.
"It's 53," said Bell, who maintained that number has nothing to do with Hoffman's club mark. "My wife asked me before the season how many saves I wanted. Fifty-three just popped into my head."
Bell figures to eclipse his career-best of 42 saves set last season, his first season closing for the Padres after Hoffman left for Milwaukee. And who is to say 53 isn't out of the question, given his success rate?
Bell has converted his last 23 save opportunities, his longest streak of consecutive saves.
After posting a 1.88 ERA and a .248 opponents batting average in the first half, Bell has converted each of his 12 save opportunities in the second half, holding opposing batters to a .143 average to go with a 1.26 ERA.
Bell joked in the first half of the season about being a "drama queen" because his saves wouldn't be of the 1-2-3 variety where he retired three batters in succession. He's done more of that in the second half.
"I guess in the first half I was just building my arm strength, going 1-2-3-4-5 instead of 1-2-3," Bell joked. "Now, as far as getting three outs in the ninth is concerned, it's going my way. But I know that as a reliever, one week can kill you."
Padres continue basepath aggressiveness
CHICAGO -- With two stolen bases Tuesday, the Padres have swiped 103 bases in 2010, which ranks second in the National League behind the Mets (104).
The 103 steals are the most since 2006, when the Padres had 123 stolen bases -- well off the franchise record of 239 steals in 1980. In that season, the Padres had three players -- Gene Richards (61), Ozzie Smith (57) and Jerry Mumphrey (52) -- who had 50 or more steals.
Will Venable leads the Padres with 23 steals. But he's not the only one who has been running, as, apparently, everyone is following an edict passed down before the start of Spring Training of being aggressive on the bases.
A total of 14 different players have stolen at least one base this season.
In the 56 games in which the Padres have stolen at least one base, the team is 46-10.
Padres mix up lineup in matinee
CHICAGO -- As Padres manager Bud Black often likes to say, "You've got to use your whole roster."
On Wednesday against the Cubs -- a day game following a night game -- Black gave four of his regular position players the start off. Not the day off, mind you, as each of the four players -- catcher Yorvit Torrealba, right fielder Ryan Ludwick, shortstop Miguel Tejada and center fielder Chris Denorfia -- were available to play.
Tejada has started 16 of 17 games since being traded to the Padres on July 29 from the Orioles. Ludwick, acquired July 31 from the Cardinals, has started 15 of 16 games since the trade.
Veteran Matt Stairs got the start in left field on Wednesday, with Everth Cabrera starting at shortstop, Tony Gwynn in center field and Nick Hundley at catcher.
Torrealba and Hundley are essentially splitting the catching duties, though Torrealba has played more (74 at-bats) in the second half than Hundley has (36 at-bats).
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.