And on Monday afternoon, Bell was in Anaheim in the Angels dugout waiting to take batting practice at the major league level for the first time and preparing for the first of a three-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays — the very same team he made his Major League Baseball debut against last season.
“I think this is different than last year,” said the 23-year-old Bell. “Now I’m fighting for a job.”
Bell made his debut late last season as a starter and eventually came out of the bullpen. This time around, Bell’s return to Major League Baseball will see him pitching out of the bullpen.
“I think [the organization has] kind of worked me into that role,” said Bell, who also worked out of the pen a bit two seasons ago with single-A Rancho Cucamonga. “I’m comfortable either way, I’m just here to do anything to help the club.”
Bell will look to aid a pitching staff that has been borderline woeful thus far, entering Monday with a 5.09 earned-run average, which is the second-highest in the American League.
The Angels began Monday in third place in the AL West Division at 14-19, 8 1/2 games behind first-place Texas.
Having begun the season on the disabled list, Bell, a former News-Press Athlete of the Year, quickly established himself as the ace of the Salt Lake staff. He made three starts, going 1-0 with a 2.04 earned-run average in 17 2/3 innings, striking out nine batters and walking three.
“He’s got a great arm and has been pitching well down there,” Angels Manager Mike Scioscia told mlb.com. “Hopefully he’ll carry it over.”
His last start was Friday at Fresno. Bell tossed just five innings, allowing one run and five hits, but was pulled after the fifth having thrown less than 70 pitches.