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The Angelic Rise of CV Alum Trevor Bell

Posted by on Jul 15th, 2010 and filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Whether moving up or down, Trevor Bell knows he’s one lucky guy.

By Brandon HENSLEY

The bags started to fall out of the bus, in the dead of night, and soon covered almost two miles of desert highway.

As the Orem Owlz baseball team from Utah was taking a 15-hour ride to Casper, Wyo., a world away from charter flights – heck, apparently a world away from buses that have functioning doors – the players slept, like citizens of Whoville, unaware their possessions were literally fleeing right out from under their noses.

“Hey, the door’s open on the bus!” one player finally yelled. Trevor Bell and his teammates awoke to see all of their luggage scattered over the two-lane highway. The bus would have to back up and the team search for its belongings against obstacles such as oncoming semi trucks.

“I thought I was dead,” said Bell.

After the ordeal was over, Bell realized that when he eventually became a major league pitcher he would be able to tell the story of the time in 2006 when he was in rookie ball and his team took a bus ride to Casper.

It is four years later, the first day of July and less than two hours before a game against the division-leading Texas Rangers. Bell is standing in that other world now, the major leagues, or quite literally the clubhouse of Los Angeles Angels, the team he pitches for. Orange County is a long way from Casper, but a relatively short one from his high school alma mater, Crescenta Valley High School. The 2005 Falcon graduate was superb in his senior season, where he posted a 0.97 ERA with 113 strikeouts, leading CV to the Pacific League title.

How many people know that, though, or anything else baseball-related to Bell? Most stories done on him revolve around his entertainment roots. For example, his grandfather Bob played Bozo the Clown for WGN-TV in Chicago from 1960 to 1984.

Bell, 23, has appeared in various commercials, as have his older brothers Brandon and Jared led by their mother Barbie, a talent manager. But when will people start seeing the 6’1” blond-haired flamethrower instead of the descendant of a makeup-wearing, red-nosed clown?

He may play near Hollywood, but Bell is all about baseball, and has been ever since he was 3, attending his brothers’ games.

“All he wanted to do was play baseball,” said his father Craig. “So he would bother us constantly.”

Craig and Barbie both grew up outside of Chicago in Deerfield, Ill. They used to take the L-Train to Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs play. Baseball, not show business, is in their blood.

In seventh grade, Bell attended a camp at CV, where he impressed Falcons Coach Phil Torres. By the end of his freshman year, Bell was getting noticed by scouts, and became a standout figure at school.

“Coming up as a freshman, he wasn’t easy on me at all,” Bell said of Torres. “And I actually gained more respect [for him] for that, because I had a lot of coaches in travel ball and Little League, and I don’t like to be babied as a baseball player.”

Torres said Bell did his job in being a team guy. “There might be a perception out there that because he was so good that he got to do anything he wanted whenever he wanted and asked for those kinds of favors, and he never did. He did what everybody else did.”

Bell received a  $975,000 signing bonus after being the Angels’ 37th selection in the 2005 draft. He played in all levels of the Angels’ minor league system, and last August, as a 22-year-old, got the call that he was being brought up to start a game against the defending American League champion Tampa Bay Rays.

“I didn’t think at all that I’d end up in the big leagues that year. That usually doesn’t happen,” Bell said.

Over 300 friends, family, coaches and supporters from CV were in attendance that day at Angel Stadium. Bell received a no decision, and the Angels won the game.

“For me that was really something special. It really was,” said Barbie. “I would just walk around and I’d see somebody and I’d start crying.”

“I never thought that it would happen at home,” said Bell, who admitted he grew up a Dodgers fan, if only because of the proximity of Dodger Stadium to his house.

His parents made the trip to Cleveland for his next start, Aug. 18, the day Bell earned his first big league win. He went five-and-a-third innings, gave up three runs and struck out two. Craig and Barbie met him on the field afterward. Bell received a plaque with the lineup card on it and the game ball, which he gave to his father.

Barbie said their phones received so many calls and text messages, “They pretty much were smoking.”

Bell was sent back down eventually, and started this season with the Salt Lake Bees, the Angels’ Triple A affiliate. He was called back up in May, now relegated to the bullpen. It was a challenge he had to accept.

“It’s a lot tighter of a situation,” he said of the change. “You need to make sure your head’s on straight when you’re in there.”

In the game against Texas, a 2-1 Angel victory, Bell watched all nine innings from the bullpen. Rangers batters had a .450 average against Bell, so maybe Angels Manager Mike Scioscia made the right call in not using him.

“Trevor’s a guy that’s taken a while to get his game where it’s major league ready,” said Scioscia before the game. “He’s worked very hard in the minor leagues, had some normal development issues that a pitcher has to go through, and has arrived and shown that he’s not intimidated by anything up here, and we expect a good career.

“You have to remember he’s still very young and sometimes you have to be patient with pitchers.”

It’s not correct to call Scioscia’s words prophetic when he’s the one acting on them, but still, that weekend, Bell and his 6.34 ERA was sent to Salt Lake again, this time to get him groomed to be a starter the next time he comes up.

Scioscia informed Bell of the news in his office and told him it wasn’t a demotion, it was to prepare him for what lies ahead. Bell recognized that.

“Starting is where my heart is,” he said. “I want to make it so I can stay here. A hard part is getting here but the harder part is staying. I want to put up great numbers and I want to do all the things that all the guys in there want to do. But I definitely want to stay here and show these guys that I want to be part of this team.”

Craig said he and his wife are used to the process now, that they “don’t get overly bummed” or stressed as to where their son will pitch next.

Torres looked at the recent news like this: “If he wasn’t good, they wouldn’t do that, because they know after the All-Star break if someone is struggling or scuffling here in the rotation, he’s just a phone call away from jumping in.”

While Bell is flying from Salt Lake to Southern California and back, his profile in the Foothills has been raised, if only a little. He is not some ostentatious King of Crescenta Valley. He said he gets recognized at Starbucks sometimes, but added La Crescenta is the only place that could happen.

After all, he’s shared a clubhouse with Hideki Matsui, a World Series champion who elicits a horde of Japanese media wherever he goes, and Torii Hunter, one the best center fielders of his generation. Compared to those guys, “You quickly realize that you’re not a superstar at all,” he said.

Bell has made sure to act like one off the field, however. In 2008, when the Iowa town of Cedar Rapids suffered a devastating flood, Bell, who was pitching there at the time, pledged $100 to the Red Cross for every strikeout. He is currently involved in Strikeouts for Troops, which raises money for wounded soldiers being treated at military hospitals.

Bell would like to start a foundation of his own eventually, and his father encourages that.

“That’s what you can do when you’re a major league baseball player, is make an effect on a community and on people, and maybe people that are less fortunate,” Craig said.

Bell played his high school games at Glendale’s Stengel Field. After his time in the minors, he said those fields made Stengel look like Yankee Stadium. Now, Bell actually gets to pitch in Yankee Stadium. He has come a long way to put himself in a position to make change. Certainly he would know what it’s like to be fortunate.

Just ask him about the time he was on a bus ride to Casper.

eventually, and started this season with the Salt Lake Bees, the Angels’ Triple A affiliate. He was called back up in May, now relegated to the bullpen. It was a challenge he had to accept.

“It’s a lot tighter of a situation,” he said of the change. “You need to make sure your head’s on straight when you’re in there.”

In the game against Texas, a 2-1 Angel victory, Bell watched all nine innings from the bullpen. Rangers batters had a .450 average against Bell, so maybe Angels Manager Mike Scioscia made the right call in not using him.

“Trevor’s a guy that’s taken a while to get his game where it’s major league ready,” said Scioscia before the game. “He’s worked very hard in the minor leagues, had some normal development issues that a pitcher has to go through, and has arrived and shown that he’s not intimidated by anything up here, and we expect a good career.

“You have to remember he’s still very young and sometimes you have to be patient with pitchers.”

It’s not correct to call Scioscia’s words prophetic when he’s the one acting on them, but still, that weekend, Bell and his 6.34 ERA was sent to Salt Lake again, this time to get him groomed to be a starter the next time he comes up.

Scioscia informed Bell of the news in his office and told him it wasn’t a demotion, it was to prepare him for what lies ahead. Bell recognized that.

“Starting is where my heart is,” he said. “I want to make it so I can stay here. A hard
part is getting here but the harder part is staying. I want to put up great numbers and I want to do all the things that all the guys in there want to do. But I definitely want to
stay here and show these guys that I want to be part of this team.”

Craig said he and his wife are used to the process now, that they “don’t get overly bummed” or stressed as to where their son will pitch next.

Torres looked at the recent news like this: “If he wasn’t good, they wouldn’t do that, because they know after the All-Star break if someone is struggling or scuffling here in the rotation, he’s just a phone call away from jumping in.”

While Bell is flying from Salt Lake to Southern California and back, his profile in the Foothills has been raised, if only a little. He is not
some ostentatious King of Crescenta Valley. He said he gets recognized at Starbucks sometimes, but added La Crescenta is the only place that could happen.

After all, he’s shared a clubhouse with Hideki Matsui, a World Series champion who elicits a horde of Japanese media wherever he goes, and Torii Hunter, one the best center fielders of his generation. Compared to those guys, “You quickly realize that you’re not a superstar at all,” he said.

Bell has made sure to act like one off the field, however. In 2008, when the Iowa town of Cedar Rapids suffered a devastating flood, Bell, who was pitching there at the time, pledged $100 to the Red Cross for every strikeout. He is currently involved in Strikeouts for Troops, which raises money for wounded soldiers being treated at military hospitals.

Bell would like to start a foundation of his own eventually, and his father encourages that.

“That’s what you can do when you’re a major league baseball player, is make an effect on a community and on people, and maybe people that are less fortunate,” Craig said.

Bell played his high school games at Glendale’s Stengel Field. After his time in the minors, he said those fields made Stengel look like Yankee Stadium. Now, Bell actually gets to pitch in Yankee Stadium. He has come a long way to put himself in a position to make change. Certainly he would know what it’s like to be fortunate.

Just ask him about the time he was on a bus ride to Casper.

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