MINNEAPOLIS – One of the things that struck David Bell is how much of an impact his late brother, Mike, made in one season with the Minnesota Twins organization.
Mike Bell, the Twins’ bench coach, died on March 26 from kidney cancer at 46 years old. With the Cincinnati Reds in town for a two-game series, the Twins held a pregame tribute for Mike Bell as a part of the team’s Cancer Awareness Night.
Center fielder Byron Buxton mentioned that he always taps the “MB” patch that sits on the right sleeve of their jerseys. Several members of the Twins, from players to coaches to front office staff, met with Mike Bell’s family before the pregame ceremony to offer hugs.
The Twins made a $10,000 donation to Gigi’s Playhouse Twin Cities in honor of Mike Bell. They presented Mike Bell’s children with a No. 27 Bell jersey that the entire team signed and gave them flowers.
“The Twins have been amazing,” David Bell said. “They have treated Mike and our family as family. They’ve been incredibly supportive. It’s a special night. It’s something we’ve been looking forward to. I think it’s part of the process for our family.”
There were 13 members of Mike Bell’s family at Monday’s game, including Mike’s wife, Kelly, and their children, Madeline, Mikayla and Luke; Mike’s mom, Gloria; and Mike’s sister, Kristi.
David Bell spoke on behalf of the family in front of the Target Field crowd. Reds players all stood in front of their dugout to watch.
“On behalf on the Bell family, I’d like to thank Rocco (Baldelli), Thad (Levine), Derek (Falvey) and the entire Twins organization for honoring Mike in such a thoughtful way,” said Bell, who paused to gather himself while reading from a prepared statement. “The donation to Gigi’s and the jersey that’s been given to us by the players, and also the continued support to our family, has been incredibly generous and is very much appreciated.
“To the players and the staff, during spring training as Mike watched your games on TV from the hospital and watched your practices on live stream, he told me how much he loved you guys and your support meant so much to him. Thank you.”
David Bell recounted his last trip to Target Field. The Reds clinched a playoff spot in Minnesota last year, and the two brothers celebrated behind home plate before one game because both of their teams were headed to the postseason.
“I know that he would want us to all be there for one another, to continue to support each other and he would definitely want us to be great teammates in our daily lives,” David Bell said in his on-field speech. “To all the people in attendance tonight who have had their lives touched by cancer and had their lives changed forever, our heart goes out to all of you. Thank you all very much and thank you so much to the Twins.”
After David Bell completed his on-field speech, he hugged Baldelli, the Twins’ manager.
ANTONE CLOSE: Tejay Antone is expected to be activated from the 10-day injured list before Tuesday’s game against the Minnesota Twins.
Antone threw a bullpen session Sunday, which was considered the last step before his return.
“Assuming he recovers well, we’ll definitely consider activating him as soon as (Tuesday),” Bell said. “We’ll make that decision after we see him today and it all goes well playing catch.”
GRAY UPDATE: Sonny Gray threw a bullpen session before Monday’s game in the Target Field bullpen. He was mum on his next step, but it was another step in the right direction.
“I felt fine,” Gray said. “I don’t have hesitation with my leg whatsoever anymore. That’s good.”
Gray has been on the injured list since June 9 with a right groin strain. It’s possible he could return to the Reds’ rotation within the next week.
“I have to do some stuff (Tuesday),” Gray said. “I’m going to do some (pitchers fielding practice) stuff and cover bases, probably run bases, probably do that type of thing and go from there. I mean, I definitely felt good on the mound.”