The Cardinals have called the Padres about San Diego closer Heath Bell, according to an ESPN report.
Bell, 33, has allowed 15 hits in 23 innings so far this season. He's struck out 18 and walked seven while compiling a 2-1 record with a 1.96 ERA and 14 saves.
The Redbirds would seem to at least have somewhat stabilized their closer problems thanks to Fernando Salas. He's nailed down 10 games in a row with a 1.52 ERA and 17 hits allowed in 23 1/3 innings. He's struck out 25 and walked six. But, despite the good overall numbers, Salas has only recorded one 1-2-3 save in his tenure as the last man out of the bullpen. I imagine that has to make manager Tony La Russa wonder how Salas will react when he has some inevitable adversity or if he will be able to handle the pressure as the pennant race heats up.
No word on the players discussed, but I would imagine that the Cardinals would offer one of their young bullpenners -- Salas or Eduardo Sanchez -- to give San Diego a closer prospect in return for their veteran stopper.
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The Padres, who traded Adrian Gonzalez over the off-season instead of letting him walk away as a free agent, seem to be back in rebuilding mode. But I can't imagine the Cardinals giving up much more because Bell is a pending free agent -- not to mention that the club needs the rest of its major league pieces to stay in the NL Central race. I can't imagine blue chip prospect Shelby Miller would even enter the conversation.
In an unrelated development, La Russa said after the Tuesday night win over the Giants that starting pitcher Kyle McClellan has significant swelling in his hip and that he is expected to miss his next start and probably will be placed on the disabled list.