07/13/11 12:47 AM ET
Picture this: Bell enters game with slide show
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
That is, until Bell reached the infield at Chase Field.
At that precise moment, the National League infielders, huddled around the mound while waiting for a pitching change, parted quickly, essentially paving an open path for Bell to ... slide into the mound?
"If anyone was going to do something like that, it would be Heath," said Pirates pitcher Kevin Correia, a teammate of Bell's the last two seasons in San Diego. "That was pretty good ... if you pull it off.
Giants closer "Brian Wilson and I were talking about it. I'd be worried I was going to catch a cleat and do a somersault over the mound."
While Bell won't likely be remembered for getting Detroit's Jhonny Peralta to pop out to end the eighth inning of the National League's 5-1 victory over the American League -- the only batter he faced -- he certainly managed to leave a lasting impression on the sold-out crowd of 47,994.
As well as his NL teammates, many of whom said they were stunned, surprised and, at the very least, amused by the antics of the gregarious Bell, who explained that his stunt was an attempt to "get back to the entertaining part of the game."
"He never ceases to amaze me," said Nicole Bell, Heath's wife of 10 years.
She certainly wasn't alone.
Bell entered the game with two outs in the eighth inning, replacing Atlanta's Jonny Venters. And as he does when the bullpen doors swing open -- at PETCO Park or on the road -- the 6-foot 3, 250-pound Bell immediately broke into a sprint with his sights set on more than just making his third All-Star Game appearance.
"I've practiced it a few times," Bell said of the slide, done on his left leg, with a green grass mark that strained his otherwise white game pants. "I originally was not going to do it, but then [Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval] got out of the way."
Bell's slide brought more than just smiles to the NL infielders, including Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, who shares the same agent as Bell.
"He just said, 'Watch what I do.' I was just watching him run and was like, 'Oh, OK, I've seen [Nationals reliever] Todd Coffey do that. The next thing you know, he paused for a minute and slid. I was like, 'What in the world?' It was funny. It was classic, I'll tell you that."
Bell, who was the losing pitcher in the 2009 All-Star Game, said he considers it part of his job to entertain. He's certainly paid well ($7.5 million this year) to pitch, and no one in the Major Leagues has more saves since the start of the 2009 than he does.
Bell, who wore a microphone during Monday's Home Run Derby, found himself on the FOX telecast of the game on Tuesday after wearing a Yoda backpack to the bullpen and for later his act of giving it away to a fan.
The Yoda backpack, one Bell first brought to the Padres' clubhouse, was considered to be a good-luck charm that other relievers wore over time. But the fun for Bell really started after he entered the game.
On the day he learned he had made his third All-Star team in as many years, Bell vowed to enjoy this experience more so than his previous trips. He brought his family, packing the minivan for a drive across the desert late Sunday. His parents were here, too.
There figures to be plenty of times for laughs on Wednesday, when the Bells make their way back to San Diego.
"This is a show right here ... the Midsummer Classic," Bell said.