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Reports: Orioles Sign RHP Heath Bell To Minor League Deal

May 16, 2014

The Orioles, in their continuing quest to solidify their final bullpen spot, reportedly signed veteran right-hander Heath Bell to a minor league deal May 16, as first reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

Bell, 36, is a former All-Star closer who has spent 11 years in the majors. He appeared in 13 games for the Rays this season, allowing 14 earned runs and 36 base runners in 17.1 innings (7.27 ERA). The Rays released him May 10.

The Orioles will be Bell's sixth organization. He came up with the Mets in 2004 and rose to prominence with the Padres, posting three consecutive seasons of 42 or more saves from 2009-11, making the National League All-Star team each year.

Bell signed a three-year, $27 million free-agent deal with the Miami Marlins before the 2012 season, but the relationship didn't work out well. Bell struggled to a 5.09 ERA during 73 games and lost the closer's job, then was traded to the Diamondbacks, where he saved 15 games during the 2013 season.

All told, Bell is 38-32 with a 3.49 ERA and 168 saves during 590 career games. He has a career strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate of 9.1.

The Orioles will likely assign Bell to Triple-A Norfolk, but he could work his way toward a spot in the Birds' bullpen if he pitches well. Since the start of May, the seventh spot in the O's bullpen has been a revolving door of pitchers shuttling from Norfolk. Most recently, the Orioles called up right-hander Evan Meek May 15, but then designated him for assignment May 16 and recalled righty Brad Brach for the second time this year.

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