GLENDALE — Trevor Bell is on his way back down to the minor leagues after being optioned to the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees on Friday, but the move doesn't appear to be an indictment on the right-handed pitcher's immediate future with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
On the contrary, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia indicated to mlb.com on Friday that the primary motive behind the move is to stretch Bell out for a return to the Angels' starting rotation.
"Trevor Bell really needs to go down and be on our depth chart as a starter," Scioscia said of the 2005 Crescenta Valley High graduate. "He needs to go down there and start getting stretched out and reestablish himself in our overall organizational rotation."
Bell, who was replaced on the Angels' active roster by reliever Rich Thompson, was originally called up by the Angels to be a starting pitcher, making his major league debut against the Tampa Bay Rays on Aug. 12, 2009. After going 1-1 with a 10.80 earned-run average over four starts, he was assigned to relief duty through the end of the 2009 season, which he finished with a record of 1-2 and a 9.74 ERA.
Since being recalled from Salt Lake on May 10, Bell has pitched exclusively as a reliever, making 14 appearances this season and posting a 1-1 record with a 6.38 ERA and 16 strikeouts to four walks.
In Salt Lake he now returns to a club with which he has had success in the past, most recently a brief stint earlier this season in which he went 1-0 with a 2.04 ERA in three starting appearances. Bell also posted a 3-4 record with a 3.15 ERA in 11 start with Salt Lake, which competes in the Pacific Coast League, prior to his initial callup in 2009.
This time, however, the speed of Bell's return to the Angels will depend mostly on the pace of his progress in gradually extending his number of innings pitched.
"[Bell's] thrown 40 here before, so you probably get into the 50- to 60-pitch range, then see how he comes out of it, then maybe expand that to a 65-75 pitch outing," Scioscia told mlb.com. "It shouldn't take too long to where he'd have enough pitches ... but it's going to take a couple weeks."