Originally published April 4, 2012
Derek Bell wasn't yet a regular for the Blue Jays in 1992, but he was ready to do what needed to be done to achieve that, he told The Associated Press that July.
"I know my role," Bell told The AP. "I have to be ready when I'm called upon. That means staying sharp with extra batting practice and working on my defense."
Bell did become a regular in the majors, with first the Padres, and then the Astros. By 2002, though, Bell apparently wasn't ready to do what it took. When asked to, he called for the now-infamous "Operation Shutdown" and it cost him his career.
Bell's career began in 1987, taken by the Blue Jays in the second round of the draft out of King High School in Tampa.
Bell made AA Knoxville for the first time in 1988, then AAA Syracuse in 1990. He first made Toronto in 1991, getting into 18 games. Bell picked up four hits in 28 at bats.
Bell came back for 61 games with the Blue Jays in 1992, hitting .242 with two home runs. For 1993, though, the Blue Jays sent Bell to the Padres in a trade. Bell got into 150 games, hitting .262.
In April, Bell hit two home runs in a single game, on his way to 21 on the season. By early June, Bell was hitting .306 with 30 RBIs, The AP wrote. On June 1, he provided the Padres offense, hitting a two-run home run in a 2-1 Padres win.
"I'm just being Derek Bell - relaxing and having fun," Bell told The AP after the game of his success to that point.
Bell hit even better in the strike-shortened 1994, hitting .311, with 14 home runs. For 1995, Bell arrived with the Astros, sent there in a 12-player deal. That July, Bell recorded six RBIs in a game against the Giants. On the year, he hit .334.
Bell stayed with the Astros for five seasons. He recorded more than 100 RBIs twice for Houston, hit over .300 twice and hit double digit home runs four of his five seasons.
Traded to the Mets for 2000, Bell hit .266 with 18 home runs. It was enough for Bell to earn a two-year deal with the Pirates. Bell, though, played in just 46 games for Pittsburgh in 2001. He also hit just .173.
By spring 2002, his starter status was in doubt. Bell, though, believed it should have been certain.
"If it ain't settled with me out there, then they can trade me," Bell told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I ain't going out there to hurt myself in spring training battling for job. If it is (a competition), then I'm going into 'Operation Shutdown.' Tell them exactly what I said. I haven't competed for a job since 1991."
Bell wasn't a starter for the Pirates that year. He also didn't play in the majors again, his career ending after 11 seasons in the majors. His retirement has also gone about as well as the end of Bell's playing career. He's been picked up twice on drug charges.