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Heath Bell keeping a close eye on Jonathan Papelbon’s situation

07.11.11 at 8:01 pm ET
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Heath Bell is a hot topic as the trade deadline approaches. (AP)

PHOENIX – Talking during the media availability for the National League All-Star team, San Diego closer Heath Bell admitted that while his priority is focusing on the current season, he is keeping an eye on the closing situation with the Red Sox. Boston’s current closer, Jonathan Papelbon, is slated to become a free agent following this season.

“I look at free agency as, ‘I’m unemployed,’ and I really don’t want to be unemployed,” said Bell, who is the final year of his current deal with the Padres. “I knew Papelbon was a free agent, but that was about it, just because my friend Adrian [Gonzalez] was over there, so I wanted to see if I could go over there. That’s about it. I haven’t really thought much about it. I’m just worried about the games of right now. I’m not really worried about the offseason.”

According to a major league source, the Red Sox have not engaged Papelbon in talks regarding a contract extension at any point this season.

Bell has been rumored to be on the trading block as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches. He currently has 26 saves to go along with a 2.43 ERA in 37 appearances.

“I’d say my dad and my mom have worried about that, my wife. They’re worried about where I’m going to go,” Bell said. “I can’t handle that. If it happens, it happens. Do I want it to happen? No. Is it a reality? Yes. I’m fine with it. I just take it as I’m going to work my butt off and give everything I have to the San Diego Padres.

“When they tell me that I’m with Philly or St. Louis or Texas or the Yankees or the Angels or whoever it is, then I’m going to give my heart and soul to that team. Until then, I’ve got 24 teammates right next to me.”

One team of interest to the Red So that has been linked to Bell has been the Yankees, who would use Bell in a set-up role for Mariano Rivera.

“I don’t want to set up, but if I got traded to a team that was heading to the playoffs and they needed me to set up, I would definitely set up,” Bell explained. “I know I’m going to become a free agent, and I want to close after that. I definitely want to close. But if they ask me to set up the last two months of the season, then I would. I know how to do it. I know how to bust my butt, go out there, pitch the eighth inning or get the seventh and eighth. I’ll do anything to win.”

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