Yes Wii Can

PEORIA, Ariz. -- San Diego Padres reliever Heath Bell was initially bothered by comments from, of all things, a video game console.

But now the heir apparent to Trevor Hoffman credits his Nintendo Wii Fit game for helping him lose 25 pounds. Bell, who has been given the first crack at taking over the closing role vacated by Hoffman, reported to camp at a svelte 245 pounds.

After spending the previous 16 seasons in San Diego, Hoffman signed a one-year, $6 million contract with Milwaukee in January.

The opportunity to take over for Hoffman, who is baseball's all-time saves leader, was more than enough motivation for Bell. But Bell, who was 6-6 with a 3.58 ERA in 74 games last season, received an extra boost when he began playing video games with his children this offseason. At the time, Bell weighed 270 pounds.

"It said I was obese," Bell said. "If you're obese, it makes [your character onscreen] obese. I was disappointed that I was that big. I literally took the game to heart. I did the work but I kind of credit the Wii Fit."

After coming over to San Diego in a November 2006 trade from the New York Mets, Bell reported to camp in 2007 at 250 pounds. The 31-year-old posted a 6-4 record with a 2.02 ERA, striking out 102 hitters in 93 2-3 innings in 2007. Getting his weight down became one of Bell's primary goals and now he's feeling good as he prepares to become a closer.

"It makes me feel good to hear the coaches say, 'Don't lose any more weight,' because they don't want me to lose velocity," Bell said. "I look stronger."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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