SAN DIEGO -- A member of the Padres since 2007, closer Heath Bell has been afforded a comfy corner locker in the clubhouse of the Peoria Sports Complex.
Bell, a two-time All-Star and a subject of trade rumors during the offseason, admitted on Sunday that he was a little surprised to be standing in front of the locker.
"To be honest with you, I am a little surprised I'm here," Bell said. "Last year, at the end of the year, I wasn't sure if I had thrown my last pitch for the Pads. But I'm really glad to be back here."
The Padres and the 33-year-old Bell avoided arbitration last month when they agreed to a one-year, $7.5 million contract for 2011, a sizable raise from the $4 million he made last season.
"My understanding is that [talks are] going to blossom during Spring Training. I'm not going to worry about it. My agents will come here in March and they'll talk then. I like that we are going to talk. If we can get it done, great. If not, OK. But at least we are trying."
Bell, who has more saves (89) the last two seasons than anyone else in baseball, said he wants nothing more than to remain with the Padres beyond 2011.
"I really don't want to go anywhere," Bell said. "I know [changing teams is] the nature of the business ... the nature of the beast. But here is like family for me, the players and coaches. It's hard to move to another family. I want to stay here for a long time."
Which is why there were a few anxious days this past winter, wondering exactly what his future was in San Diego. He found some resolution when the Padres traded first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox on Dec. 6.
"When I heard Adrian was going to get traded, I felt fine ... because I thought one of us was going to have to get traded," Bell said. "I didn't think both of us were going to be here [in 2011]. I'm glad I'm the one here."