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Heath Bell Claimed by San Francisco Giants

The ball is back in the Padres' court

Wednesday, Aug 24, 2011  |  Updated 1:08 PM PDT
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Bell's Changeup

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San Diego Padres closer Heath Bell pumps his fist after getting the last out in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros at Petco Park on June 4, 2011.

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Bell's Changeup

At Spring Training, Padres pitcher Heath Bell talks to Derek Togerson about changing up his grip.
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Four people with knowledge of the situation say the San Francisco Giants have claimed San Diego closer Heath Bell off waivers.

They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday because baseball rules forbid the public discussion of waiver cases. Whether the reigning World Series champions will actually acquire Bell from the division rival Padres is unclear. Once Bell is claimed, San Diego has 48 hours to decide whether to trade the three-time All-Star, allow him to be claimed or pull him back from waivers.

There is also a theory that Giants general manager Brian Sabean might be trying to block NL West-leading Arizona — under first-year general manager and former Padres GM Kevin Towers — from landing Bell.

NBCSanDiego media partner The North County Times reports that a trade is unlikely, citing an unnamed team source.

ESPN first reported the Giants had won the waiver claim for the 33-year-old Bell, who converted his 35th save in 39 opportunities in Tuesday's 7-5 win over the Giants.

The Giants are beat up in the bullpen, with closer Brian Wilson and reliever Sergio Romo on the disabled list.

There is no timetable for when Wilson will get on a mound and test his inflamed right elbow, though there's a chance he could return in early September for the stretch run. Wilson has declined to discuss his injury.

One person familiar with the situation said it could take a lot for the Giants to land Bell, an investment they might only make if they thought Wilson would be out for the remainder of the season.

Wilson was last season's majors saves leader with 48, while Bell had 47.

San Francisco began the day two games back of the Diamondbacks in the division race.

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