San Diego's Heath Bell, who's taking over for departed closer Trevor Hoffman, was added to the United States' roster for the World Baseball Classic on Monday.
"It's going to be really cool to have USA on the front of my
jersey," Bell said.
The right-hander got the word shortly before the Padres played
the Milwaukee Brewers. He said he checked with manager Bud Black
and pitching coach Darren Balsley to make sure it was OK with them
before he accepted the assignment.
"Bud said, 'Have fun. You know how important you are to the
Padres,' and Bals just said, 'Hey, be smart.'
"For this to just come out of the blue, out of left field, is
awesome," said Bell, who planned to take a redeye flight Monday
night to join Team USA in Florida.
He'll join Padres teammate Jake Peavy, who's scheduled to start
Team USA's opener against Canada on Saturday in Toronto.
Pirates reliever John Grabow was also added to Team USA's
roster. Grabow was invited on Sunday, but held off making a
decision until he discussed it with his family and Pirates
"I wanted to make sure myself that I'm ready to flip the switch
and get after it in meaningful games," Grabow said. "I know my
limits, and I think I'm ready."
Another Padres' front-liner, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, is
playing for Mexico.
Bell said he'll replace Minnesota's Joe Nathan, who bowed out
Sunday after experiencing soreness in his pitching shoulder the
previous five days. Additionally, B.J. Ryan of the Toronto Blue
Jays decided to stay in spring training with Toronto and tune up
for the regular season.
Bell moved into the closer role after the Padres pulled their
offer to Hoffman, baseball's all-time saves leader, who then signed
with the Brewers.
Grabow, who pitched for the U.S. in the Olympic qualifying
trials in 2003, is replacing Brian Fuentes for at least the first
round of the tournament, but it's possible he could remain on the
roster for the entire event.
"It's an honor," Grabow said. "It's an opportunity you don't
get too often."
Grabow expects to pitch in a pre-WBC exhibition game either
Wednesday or Thursday. Team USA begins tourney play Saturday
against Canada in Toronto.
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