09/15/2009 1:01 PM ET
Heath Bell: It's our job to be spoilers
Padres closer is taking on rivals, mentoring young players
We're playing the role of spoiler right now.
This month, we're playing a lot of teams in our division that are in the playoff chase. So far, we've beaten the Dodgers, the Giants and the Rockies two out of three games each. We have three more games to go with Colorado, and we finish the season against Los Angeles.
One way we look at it right now is that these games are our playoffs. We have to have the intensity and pretend these games are our playoffs. If we do that we can beat some teams. Hopefully, next year at this time we'll be the team going for the playoffs.
Our young guys are getting an opportunity to play against good teams during this stretch, and, hopefully, it will build up their confidence. The idea is for them to learn they can perform at the big league level. Hopefully, they stay grounded during the winter and come to Spring Training in better position to help our team.
Seeing so many young guys make their debut this season reminds me of late August in 2004 when I first got called up by the Mets. It's the time of the season when clubs make a number of September call-ups, although our September call-ups started in June this year.
My role this year off the field has also sort of followed suit. I'm one of the few veteran guys here, one of the few veteran pitchers, in particular, and I am only 31. I have a well-defined role on the field, so it's part of my job to help the other guys feel comfortable here in the big leagues.
Along with the other veterans -- like Brian Giles, David Eckstein and Henry Blanco -- I think we've done a good job of taking care of the young guys.
Part of my job has been helping the younger guys down in the bullpen. I think our bullpen has done a good job, but there's room to be better. We have had a lot of kids down there this year, and we have had some injuries. Edward Mujica and me are really the only ones with much experience.
Eckstein has taken care of all the young infielders, Giles has done the same with the outfielders, and Blanco has done a great job with the catchers and some of our Latin players, in particular.
Overall, this year has been a big learning process. I think there are some similarities to the Tampa Bay club a number of years ago. We're beginning to develop a group that can do really well in the future.
Despite playing for an under-.500 club, Padres closer Heath Bell is tied with Ryan Franklin for the NL lead in saves this season with 37. Bell, who had served as a setup man for future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman the previous two seasons, also made the National League All-Star team for the first time in 2009.