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ALL-STAR GAME NOTES

Heath Bell doesn't let opportunity slide by at All-Star game

San Diego Padres closer makes a grand entrance after being summoned to pitch in the eighth inning for the National League.

July 12, 2011|By Kevin Baxter and Bill Shaikin
  • San Diego Padres closer Heath Bell slides across the infield while making his way from the bullpen to the mound during the eighth inning of the National League's 5-1 victory in the MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday.
San Diego Padres closer Heath Bell slides across the infield while making… (Jeff Haynes / Reuters )

Reporting from Phoenix — San Diego Padres reliever Heath Bell made his mark on Tuesday's All-Star game — well, it was more of a divot — when he was summoned to pitch with two out in the eighth inning.

After racing in from the left-field bullpen, Bell slid just in front of the mound, taking a huge chunk of the infield grass with him as National League Manager Bruce Bochy and third baseman Pablo Sandoval watched.

"When I was running in, I was trying to decide what I was going to do and then I saw Sandoval get out of the way and I was 'Yeah, let's do it,' " he said. "But I was glad Bruce didn't yell at me. I was worried about that."

Bell said he had been planning a surprise entrance for weeks and tipped Sandoval off to the possibility.

"I asked him if it would be a good idea and he was like 'Yeah, yeah,' " Bell said

"I wanted the fans to have fun with this. The fans are really what matters. They're the ones that show up. They're the ones who pay our salary.

"This is a show right here."

As Bell talked, a four-foot bright red bat sat in the locker behind him. That was to be a prop for another long-planned prank during Monday's home run derby, one that called for Bell to dress up in a uniform borrowed from one of the sluggers, then go to the plate lugging the huge club.

But Bell, who retired the only batter he faced Tuesday, said he didn't really know of the eight players invited to compete in the derby. And besides, none of them were "stocky white dudes."

"Like [Mike] Stanton from Florida. I think I could have pulled him off," the bearded Bell said. "I would have shaved for that. I was just trying to have a good time."

Asked whether he thought he accomplished that with his slide, he answered in the affirmative.

"I didn't hurt myself," he said. "I wanted to have a blast. And I accomplished that goal."

Prince for a day

Prince Fielder's fourth-inning home run, just to the left of the 413-foot marker in center field, not only gave the National League a lead it wouldn't relinquish in its 5-1 win, but it also made him the first Milwaukee Brewers player to hit an All-Star home run and earned him game most-valuable-player honors to boot.

But Fielder hardly took time to admire the blast. Off the bat it looked as if center fielder Curtis Granderson might have a play.

"I thought I hit it good, but I saw Curtis running it down. It made me nervous because he was at full speed," Fielder said. "I knew if it wasn't a homer I'd better hurry up and get to second. Got me a little scared there for a second."

Short hops

The Angels' Howie Kendrick made his All-Star debut on his 28th birthday, grounding out in the seventh inning in his only at-bat.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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