Padres News: Former Closer Heath Bell Retires


The song “Blow Me Away” by Breaking Benjamin has not echoed through Petco Park to start the ninth inning since 2011.

Heath Bell was the San Diego Padres closer from 2009 to 2011, pitching out of the bullpen before that beginning in 2007.

Bell announced his retirement last week to‘s Corey Brock, soon after being released by the Washington Nationals.

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Bell was born in Oceanside, CA and went to Santa Ana College before being signed by the New York Mets in 1998.

He broke into the big leagues with New York in 2004 and actually first pitched against the Padres.

At the end of the 2006 season, Bell had 81 games under his belt in New York and he was traded to the San Diego Padres. He was a vital part of the bullpen in his first season, appearing in 81 games with 2 saves and 102 strikeouts.

It was much of the same in 2008, helping set up games for Trevor Hoffman by pitching in the seventh or eighth innings. Hoffman left after that season and it was time for Bell to step in to the closer role.

With his own entrance song and style (sprinting like a mad man to the mound from the bullpen), Bell began closing games for the Padres in 2009.

In his first season filling the shoes of one of the best relievers in MLB history, he led the league with 42 saves and a 2.71 ERA. He also earned his first career All-Star selection that year.

He did even better in 2010, racking up 47 saves with a 1.93 ERA. In 2011, he surpassed 40 saves for the third straight year with 43, and was elected to his third straight All-Star selection.

Once going to the Marlins in 2012, Bell never was the same. He had 19 saves for the Fish, but also posted a 5.09 ERA. He then finished his career with a year with the Arizona Diamondbacks and then lastly with the Tampa Bay Rays. He pitched 11 years total and accumulated 168 saves and 590 total appearances.

Bell is actually second on the all-time list for the Padres in saves with 134; more than Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage and Huston Street. He was also named the “Relief Man of the Year” twice as a member of the Padres.

I have a fond memory of Heath Bell. In the summer of 2011, he asked his Twitter followers who they thought his favorite actor was. I guessed Tom Hanks and I was right. He ended up giving me free tickets next to the dugout that week and I had the opportunity to meet him and get an autograph. He definitely knew how to interact with the fans.

Happy Trails, Heath Bell!

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