TEMPE, Ariz. -- Because he was a first-round Draft pick in 2005 out of Crescenta Valley High School in the Los Angeles sprawl and has been a professional for six years, Trevor Bell seems older than his 24 years. The hard-throwing right-hander with premium stuff reached the big time in 2009, experiencing some highs and lows. He was back with the Angels in 2010 with a more extended and enjoyable taste of the life. Now he's back in camp intending to build on what he has done and learned. If he doesn't have a clear-cut role heading into the season, it will be nothing Bell hasn't dealt with before. His experience has brought a sense that he can adapt and be successful whether he's starting or pitching out of the bullpen.
"I figured out my program now in how to go from pitching an inning to stretching out [in a starting role]," Bell said. "At the beginning of last year, I didn't know to to stretch it out that quick. It's a mental thing. OK, today I'm a reliever. OK, today I'm a starter." A starter in four of his first five professional seasons, Bell has made 33 Major League appearances, 11 as a starter. His ERA dropped from 9.74 in eight games in '09 to 4.72 last year, and his numbers across the board -- notably 45 strikeouts against 21 walks in 61 innings -- improved. "I liked to watch relievers like Troy Percival, Trevor Hoffman, Eric Gagne," Bell said. "When I'm relieving, that's who I want to emulate -- pumping gas, throwing strikes. Here it is -- hit it. "As a starter, its more, 'How are we going to dissect this lineup?' I love that inner part of the game, going through a lineup and figuring out ways to attack it. I can use all my stuff, because you have to keep guys off balance, as opposed to just bringing the hard stuff as a reliever. "Definitely, I want to start. But I'll do whatever I can to make the club and contribute. That's obviously where we all want to be." The Angels are loaded with developing power arms, with Bell in a right-handed group that includes Kevin Jepsen, Jordan Walden, Michael Kohn, Rich Thompson, Francisco Rodriguez and Bobby Cassevah. Bell is on the depth chart both as a starter and reliever, with the likelihood he'll open the season back at Triple-A Salt Lake -- a phone call away. "We want him to think he's a starter," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's got to pitch well enough that if there's an opening in the rotation, he's able to step up. He's also battling for a role in the bullpen if it lines up that way. "Matty Palmer, Trevor Bell, Tyler Chatwood, Ryan Chaffee, Garrett Richards, Trevor Reckling making strides ... those guys are important on the depth chart." Having spent the winter working on his conditioning at UCLA and also doing advanced training in a gym, Bell is carrying a rock-solid 210 pounds on his 6-foot-2 frame. "I had a foot problem," Bell said, "and I've done a lot of running along with Gyrotonics -- a weighted pulley system that straps to the legs and works the hips. My hips are more flexible than ever." A work in progress, Bell has come a long way the past few years. No longer is he known for being the grandson of Bob Bell, a fixture on Chicago television for a quarter-century as Bozo the Clown. This Bell is dead serious about carving out a future entertaining folks with his strong right arm.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.