Q and A with Padres closer Heath Bell

San Diego closer Heath Bell is a hot commodity that many contending teams are inquiring about. (Eric Risberg/AP)

Padres closer Heath Bell may be the hottest name on the trade market right now: he’s a proven commodity at closer who sports a 2.45 ERA and 28 saves on the season entering Friday night’s game against the Phillies.

With the trade deadline about a week away, Bell didn’t shy away from answering questions about his future, or his stunt at the 2011 All-Star game.

Question: Your running sprint, then slide at the All-Star game, was that planned?

Heath Bell: I kind of planned it a little bit. Told some guys I was going to do it. It was just more fun. I mean, it’s an exhibition game, it’s for the fans. Just wanted to give some excitement to the fans. And just not the same old boring thing. I think a lot of the fans lose the All-Star game because there were people who didn’t want to come, and this and that, so I just really tried to give back as much as possible with fans. Give a couple of gifts here and there. And to give some memorable sliding moments.

I’m just a big kid who plays baseball — plain and simple. I’m real serious when you give me the ball, but otherwise I want to have fun.

You could watch me pitch and say I’m psycho like some other guys, but I’m just really passionate about what I do and give everything I have into every single pitch, every moment and don’t want to let my team down. I’m like a roller coaster on the mound: I have my highs and my lows.

If you guys covered San Diego more, you’d see the segue rolling around, you’d see the cooler scooter, you’d see angry birds flying through the clubhouse. Yeah, just a lot of fun stuff in San Diego.

Question: Do you have to be a 9th inning guy?

Bell: No.

Question: In the future?

Bell: Yes. I mean I’m a free agent at the end of the year. I’m not going to sign anywhere to become a setup guy. I want to go out there and I want to close next year. I don’t want to setup. This year, I’ll do whatever it takes to win. If they want me to go out there and pitch the 8th inning or the 7th and 8th inning, I’ll do it.

Question: Does that make the Phillies an attractive destination?

Bell: Next year’s next year. Right now, you’ve got [Brad] Lidge — Lidge with an option. You’ve got [Ryan] Madson that’s been unbelievable so far. … [Jose] Contreras, he’s under contract next year. There’s a lot of different ways you could go. So am I worried about Philly? Not really. St. Louis doesn’t have a closer, really, right now. They just have guys who are doing the job and they’re doing pretty good. There’s a lot of teams that need closers next year.

Right now, I’m trying to play for 2011. That’s as simple as that. I’m trying to do the best that I can with the Padres and try and get them into [being] buyers. I know that’s kinda joking around, but that’s the way we are. And if I get traded, I’ll give my heart and soul to that team. If it’s Philly, it’s Philly. If it’s St. Louis, it’s St. Louis. Texas, the Yankees. Whoever it is.

Question: Where will you be a week from Sunday?

Bell: A week from Sunday, I mean, I think we’re still home for a couple of days. I don’t know where I’m going to be. I know the business part of the game. And I understand part of the game, that you don’t necessarily get to stay with the same team for your whole career. It’s just one of those things, if I get to put a major league uniform on and go out and pitch, then I’m a happy camper.

In the grand scheme of things: I want to be the best pitcher out there. And when it really boils down to it, does it matter what team you’re playing for? No. But you want to play for a championship team. Do I want to build something here? Do I want to stay here in San Diego? Yes, I do. Is it going to happen? I don’t know. If you listen to all of the rumors? No, it’s not going to happen. Funnier things might happen. Jed said that if they don’t get what they want, they might try and sign me to a long-term deal. So my fingers are kinda crossed for that one. But then again, my fingers are crossed, if I do get traded and go to a team that has a chance to go to the World Series.

  --Tim Rohan

Have a question? Send it to Matt Gelb's Mailbag.

Download our NEW iPhone/Android app for easy access to all of our Phillies coverage, plus app-exclusive videos and analysis. Get it here.