MEET BUBBA BELL
The day we were in Cooperstown (Sunday) I met three lovely ladies who made the trip from Augusta Maine to watch the PawSox play. They are Portland Sea Dogs season ticket holders and were excited about Aaron Bates and his start with Pawtucket. They also inquired about Bubba Bell and when he might join the PawSox. Ladies, he is here. The 26 year old Texan joined the club on Monday, travelling from Akron to Portland to Pawtucket, getting here in time for the rainout. “It was a long day for me, it started about 4:30 in the morning. We flew back from Akron and I got a call from Arnie (Portland manager Arnie Beyeler), he told me I had to get to Pawtucket and here I am. I was definitely tired, but I had enough excitement to carry me through the day.” Bell, an outfielder has put up good numbers at Double A. In his fifth year in the organization, the former 39th round pick (1187th overall) of the 2005 draft has had to work very hard to catch up with the likes of “classmates” Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden. “It’s been tough coming from where I did, not having a lot of expectations from me. I’ve had to work that much harder and I appreciate everything that has happened to me. It has made me the player I am today”. Bell has had an outstanding minor league career, posting a career .309 batting average. He said that his MVP season in 2007 in the California League has given him the confidence to forge ahead. “It proved to me that I was meant to be here and put up these kind of numbers (.370 22, 83), It meant a lot because it said to me- this is what you should be doing. I think it proved something to the organization and something to me.” Any baseball person I’ve asked describes Bell as an “all-out player”, meaning he never leaves anything in the clubhouse. He chose a pretty good role model. “My favorite player growing up was Griffey. He’s had some injuries going into walls, etc. I have a lot of competitive drive so if I see a ball somewhere in the outfield, I am going to do everything I can to bring it down.” Bell knows why he becomes a fan favorite, no matter where he plays. “I think people appreciate it a whole lot more, it makes the game more exciting. Thats my “M.O.”, that’s how I feel I’ll play my whole career. Bubba Bell also passed the “Steve Hyder Poise Test”. As we chatted in the PawSox dugout, Bell hardly cracked a smile, despite the best efforts of Charlie Zink to make him laugh during our interview. A lot of his “new” teammates really aren’t that new. “I’ve got a lot of good friends on this team. Buch (Clay Buchholz), Michael Bowden and Charlie Zink. I spent a lot of time with this group of guys at Spring Training. I’m real comfortable with these players. It made it even more exciting when I knew I was coming up and playing with them.” Aaron Bates has a six game “head start” at Pawtucket over Bell, and Bubba is encouraged by Bates’ fast start. “Absolutely. He’s been swinging the bat so well all year, it’s been fun to watch Aaron do it. I have no doubts that I can do the same thing up here. Bubba, of course is a nickname. It’s been with Bell since even before he was born. His dad gave it to him. “My real name is Billy Wayne Bell, Jr. I’ve had the nickname “Bubba” as long as I can remember. It’s something that I haven’t been able to shake so far.” Bell isn’t sure the nickname is always a good thing. “Some people hear the name and try to define me by it. It’s not the case, but every where I go people seem to think it’s a good baseball name, and I’ll keep it as long as I’m playing ball.” Add the name Bubba Bell to the long list of great kids and outstanding players to come through the doors of McCoy Stadium.