Ex-Oriole Bell takes slow road back with Indians
Former Baltimore Oriole Eric Bell has made it back to the major leagues after undergoing the Tommy John operation on his left elbow more than three years ago.
Bell, who will turn 28 next month, has not pitched in the big time since tying Mike Boddicker for the Orioles' lead with 10 victories in 1987.
"It's been a slow road," said Bell, now in the bullpen of the $H Cleveland Indians. "But there was never a time when I wanted to give it up."
He was signed as a minor-league free agent by the Indians about a year ago after not pitching for more than a year after the operation.
"I think I'm pretty close to the form of 1986-87, but I haven't thrown to a lot of major-league hitters yet [three innings]," he said. "I had a decent year in the minors, made some progress."
Bell was 9-5 with a 2.89 ERA for the Class AA Canton-Akron Indians, then was 2-1 with a 2.13 ERA for the Class AAA Colorado Springs SkySox.
"Hopefully, I'll get some innings in and go to spring training next year with a chance to make the club," he said. "I feel I'm back health-wise and they just want me back to the way I was on the mound."
Mike Devereaux and Leo Gomez are scheduled to go to the Florida Instructional League to concentrate on specific skills shortly after the regular season ends.
"We want Devo to work on base stealing and bunting," said manager John Oates. "And Gomez to work on lateral movement, something to get him on the ground floor."
Both players have agreed and will be in Sarasota, Fla., about a week with the Orioles' Instructional League team.
"If they go, they should have specialized people to work with them," said Oates, who added that several other Orioles may also go.
Ed Napoleon and Reid Nichols are in charge of the team, and Bobby Miscik provides infield instruction.
Among the minor-leaguers on the roster are highly regarded shortstop Manny Alexander and pitchers Erik Schullstrom and Jeff Williams.
No shutdown plans
Oates said there are no plans to shut down any pitchers the rest of the season and that Dave Johnson and Jeff Ballard may or may not get another start.
"There are 14 pitchers here. Obviously I can't pitch them all," he said. "Maybe Johnson and Ballard will work in somewhere."
The only pitcher on the staff who should make 200 innings this season is Bob Milacki, who has worked 156 for the Orioles and 17 for the Class AA Hagerstown Suns with probably five outings left.
The Orioles commemorated 2 events last night, the 20-year anniversary of Frank Robinson's 499th and 500th home runs and the 29th anniversary of Tom Cheney's major-league record 21 strikeouts (in 16 innings) against the Orioles for the Senators. Robinson's second homer made him only the 11th player in major-league history with 500 homers. . . . With 2 more homers, Cal Ripken will become only the fourth shortstop in history with 30. Ernie Banks did it 5 times, Vern Stephens twice and Rico Petrocelli once.