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Bell earns rotation spot
By MARC TOPKIN
Published March 24, 2005
VERO BEACH - Rob Bell has pitched very well this spring. So well that even though manager Lou Piniella tried to hold off on naming any more starters for his rotation, he couldn't wait any longer.
After watching Bell hold the Dodgers to two hits over five shutout innings in Wednesday's 3-2 loss, Piniella said the 28-year-old right-hander will indeed be one of the five starters.
"He's earned it," Piniella said. "He's pitched well all spring. I think he's throwing the ball as good as I've seen him over the two years we've had him here, probably better. He's pitching with confidence. He's pitching ahead of the hitters. He's done a good job. So he'll be one of our five."
Bell, who emerged as a starter last season, joins Dewon Brazelton, Scott Kazmir and Mark Hendrickson in the rotation.
That leaves a crowded field for the final spot that includes Hideo Nomo, who can help his cause with another strong outing tonight; Doug Waechter, who hurt his bid by allowing two more home runs Wednesday; Seth McClung, who could end up in the bullpen; and left-hander Casey Fossum, who could be more valuable in the bullpen if reliever Trever Miller is traded.
Bell, who has a 1.62 ERA (with 15 strikeouts and two walks in 162/3 innings) and hasn't allowed an earned run over his past 122/3 innings, welcomed the news.
"It's a great stepping stone," he said. "Hopefully I'll get a chance to get a breather here where I don't come to the park every day and worry about what I might read, or be afraid to flip through cable because I'm afraid of what I might see on TV."
But Bell said he won't be satisfied just being in the rotation.
"That's still not encouraging enough for me," Bell said. "I don't want to be just one of the five guys. ... I prepared to come down to the long stretch here that I'm one of the main guys, a guy that can contribute the most of anyone here. I expect that of myself."