SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Few people in baseball know reliever Heath Bell like D-backs general manager Kevin Towers.
Towers was the Padres GM who let closer Trevor Hoffman leave via free agency and replaced him with Bell. And it was Towers who acquired Bell this winter after the right-hander had a disastrous 2012 season with the Marlins.
Bell saved 43 games and had a 2.44 ERA for the Padres in 2011 before signing a three-year, $27 million deal with the Marlins. It was a bad fit from the start, as the 35-year-old compiled a 5.37 ERA and feuded with former Miami manager Ozzie Guillen.
While watching him last year, Towers said he noticed Bell's stride was a little long, which could have caused him to elevate his pitches.
"I think his stuff is the same, it's just pitching is tough and a lot of it is mental," Towers said. "You get off to a tough start, man, and you're in a new place with a big contract and high expectations, and it didn't sound he and the manager hit it off all that well. Just not a good environment."
Bell is expected to pitch in a seventh-inning setup role for the D-backs, with he and David Hernandez filling in as closer if J.J. Putz is unavailable.
Skaggs raring to go for fifth-starter battle
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- D-backs manager Kirk Gibson watched Tyler Skaggs throw a bullpen session the other day and knew right away the left-hander was not playing around.
"He was going at it pretty good his last bullpen session, and I was like, 'You've got to take it easy,' and he said he's been throwing," Gibson said. "He's trying to win a job. For me, you don't want him to overdo it and hurt himself, but at the same time, you want to see what he's got."
Skaggs is battling for the fifth spot in the rotation with Patrick Corbin and Randall Delgado, and he has come into camp like a man on a mission.
Skaggs was 185 pounds at the beginning of last spring and 190 at season's end. After an offseason of workouts, he is now at 213 pounds and he started his throwing program two to three weeks earlier this year to get ready for camp.
"I worked really hard during the offseason lifting weights, trying to get stronger," Skaggs said. "I came to camp ready to go. I'm not trying to get into the swing of things, I'm trying to win a spot. I wanted to come in here with my arm ready to go."
Hernandez loses sure bet to teammate Miley
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- David Hernandez thought he could not lose.
The D-backs' setup man bet teammate Wade Miley that his beloved Lakers would beat the Suns on Jan. 30 at U.S. Airways Arena.
And with 10 minutes to go in the game, the Lakers held their largest lead of the game at 78-65 and Hernandez was smiling.
"I thought it was a for sure win," the reliever said.
The Suns, though, outscored the Lakers, 27-8, over those final 10 minutes to win, 92-86, and on Tuesday, Hernandez had to pay part of the bet by wearing a white T-shirt that said "I Love the Suns," along with jeans shorts to the ballpark.
Hernandez also needs to purchase a Goran Dragic jersey for Miley.
"Unbelievable," Hernandez said. "The Lakers had a five-game road trip, and that was the only game they lost on the trip. It's all good though. The only bad part is it was really cold walking in here."
Temperatures were in the upper 30s in the early-morning hours when the players reported.