Heath Bell, who has helped the San Diego Padres make a seamless transition from a future Hall of Famer to a new closer, is the April winner of the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Month Award. Bell, a 31-year-old right-hander, could not have been any more of a lock in his first month in Trevor Hoffman's shoes. He not only converted all eight of his save opportunities, but pitched shutout, four-hit ball through his 8 2/3 innings. The Delivery Man Award recognizes the most outstanding relief pitcher during each month of the regular season, as chosen by an MLB panel of voters.
Bell's April highlights included striking out the side vs. the Dodgers in his April 7 season debut for his first save since Aug. 29, 2007, and collecting the save against the Mets on April 13 in the first regular-season game at New York's Citi Field. Although Bell's month may appear to have been excellence without equal, he actually had a slew of comparably flawless closers to contend with for the award. St. Louis' Ryan Franklin and the Dodgers' Jonathan Broxton, also newly-installed as their teams' closers, each posted seven saves. Additionally, Franklin didn't allow an earned run in 10 appearances, and Broxton added a 2-0 record and 0.82 ERA to his 10-game resume. Also receiving serious consideration was Rangers closer Frank Francisco, who was 1-0 with six saves in 10 games in which he flaunted a 9-to-1 strikeouts-to-walk ratio.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.