Bench coach Bell battling kidney cancer

46-year-old will work remotely as he recovers from surgery

February 17th, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins bench coach Mike Bell was diagnosed with kidney cancer this offseason and will not be with the team as Spring Training gets underway while he recovers at home in Arizona, the club announced Wednesday.

After experiencing symptoms in mid-January, Bell underwent a Jan. 28 procedure to remove the growth on the kidney and a substantial amount of tissue in the surrounding area. He is out of the hospital and is facing recovery on an uncertain timeline at home.

Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said Bell was "very, very optimistic" about his recovery and noted that both Bell and his doctors are encouraged by the signs moving forward.

"Mike has handled this with great courage, and as I said before, he’s recovering, doing great and is looking for the next part of his recovery, which will take place at home in Arizona for the time being," Baldelli said. "But believe me, he’s already plotting his return back to the dugout and getting back with the guys and getting ready to go.

"Every day we talk to him, Mike sounds better and better on the phone. On his end, stronger and stronger. It’s been very encouraging."

Bell is expected to publicly address the condition at a later date.

Bell will still help the Twins' coaching staff in a remote capacity as Spring Training gets underway, and due to the uncertainty of his recovery timeline, the Twins will not make any staffing adjustments, with several staff members set to take on additional responsibilities. Quality control coach Nate Dammann will continue to run Spring Training camp in coordination with Bell.

The club will continue to evaluate its staffing needs if the need arises toward the start of the regular season, Baldelli said, as Bell and his doctors learn more about his condition.

"He's been very eager," Baldelli said. "I know with everything that's been going on, he's had his attention focused elsewhere, but I think the ability to talk some baseball and have some fun and get the competitive juices flowing have been good for him, and I know he looks forward to it. For now, I think that's a start.

"I also think that as we start playing our games, even Spring Training games, I think his ability to watch our team from home and give us his general thoughts on what he's seeing from a completely different angle than what we're getting, I think, will be very valuable."

Bell, 46, was hired as the Twins' bench coach before the 2020 season -- his first as a Major League coach -- following a 10-year stint in player development with the D-backs. He had been very eager to get back into the dugout for the first time since he served as manager of Arizona's Class A affiliate in Visalia, Calif., from 2008-09.

"We just want to make sure that we got word to him that we care about him and love him and to recover as soon as possible," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "It’s been a very tough scenario, but we know he’s going to fight and do what he’s supposed to do to get as well as he can as fast as he can."

Bell's father, Buddy Bell, spent nine years as an MLB manager and serves as vice president and senior adviser to the general manager in Cincinnati. His brother, David Bell, is the current Reds manager.

"At this point, he's at home, which is really important to him, and he's just focused on getting healthy, getting stronger," David Bell said. "He has a ton of people that love him and support him and will all help him get strong and get back healthy and get back to work. One other thing is just the amount of support and amount of people throughout the game and friends that have reached out to him. I know it's meant a lot to him."