Heath Bell is providing relief but what’s news about that?
Make that coach Heath Bell and there’s your story.
“The kids are pretty pumped,’’ said Joey Burke, a coach for 5 Tool Athletics. “Heath is pretty pumped.’’
Burke is 5TA’s real coach, but he’s also an assistant at La Costa Canyon High. With CIF-San Diego Section rules mandating no contact between coaches and players over the next two weeks, hence the ringing for Bell.
5TA, which features many LCC players, starts play in the Perfect Game Super 25 National Championship tournament on Wednesday with Bell at the controls.
“It will be fun,’’ said Bell, the ex-Padre said. “If a team doesn’t call me I could be helping them for awhile.’’
Bell was released last month by the Yankees, which may or may not signal the end of a career, which shows 168 saves. He’s waiting for the dust to settle after the upcoming trading deadline, to see if there’s a spot for him.
If not, c’est la vie and say, what time is the next 5TA game?
“It’s going to be fine,’’ Bell said. “I’m looking at it as a paid vacation.
“Baseball is part of my life but not the only part. I’m staying in shape and I want to get back in the bigs but if it doesn’t work out, I’ve got four children to spend time with.
As well as his other young ‘uns on the 5TA under-16 squad, which won the Southern California regional in earning next week’s trip to Ft. Myers, Fla.
“It’s kind of like having a star for a coach,’’ said Griff Teisher, 16, an 5TA outfielder. “Everyone knows who he is and the other teams think that’s pretty cool having Heath Bell as a coach.’’
Teisher is one of the team’s top hitters, along with his LCC buddies, Reed LaBar and Kooper Christ.
Right-hander Julian McDonald is among the 5TA’s aces and what other squad can lean on a three-time, All-Star as a backup coach?
“He knows four or five of the kids pretty well and he helped us last year in Arizona, when he was pitching for the Diamondbacks and we had a tournament there,’’ said Burke, a former standout LCC and Palomar College infielder. “The kids thought it was great.’’
Anytime teenagers can become all ears, someone has to be special.
“They know he has been to the top, been an All-Star and they can talk baseball with him,’’ Burke said. “He loosens everyone up.
“And the players don’t want to let him down. They want to show off their abilities to him.’’
Bell’s message is the same to pitchers, fielders and hitters: don’t stress.
“You want to have fun, be passionate about it and do your best,’’ said Bell, an Oceanside native. “Even if you are striking out four times maybe tell the next guy how the curveball is dropping or how he’s throwing it after a fastball. Just try and help the team win — it’s not a ‘me’ sport.’’
Or one that needs over analysis.
“It’s a simple game, a game you play when you’re 5 years old, 10 years old, 30 years old,’’ said Bell, who recorded 132 saves over a three-season span with the Padres. “You have to put in the time and not give up. But you still have to have a good time.’’
The timing was right for Bell and 5TA — not so much for Burke. But there are benefits to avoiding the Sunshine State in the summer, even if the tournament is at the Red Sox spring training complex.
“I get to stay in this nice weather,’’ Burke said. “And they will be in muggy Florida.’’
With Bell providing another save.
Contact Jay Paris at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports