Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Canadian traveling world to find spot in pro baseball

Citizen Staff Writer



Talk about devotion.

Canadian Bryon Bell, 26, is crisscrossing the world to keep alive his dream of professional baseball.

His latest travels brought him to Tucson last weekend to try out for the Toros, the city’s new independent Golden Baseball League team. He was one of six pitchers – among 161 players – invited back this week for a closer look.

Getting here was no simple task for the 6-foot-6, 260-pound Bell, who spent last summer as a closer and shortstop in Belgium. He drove from Toronto to Pittsburgh to catch a flight to Phoenix.

“It was kinda last minute because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it down,” Bell said. “I ended up getting a flight and it didn’t work. I had to book one at the last minute. I’ve been staying in Scottsdale with a buddy and I drove down for the tryout.”

Get this. Bell headed back to Pittsburgh on Monday for a tryout with the independent Frontier League and may come back to Tucson for his return audition.

He’ll have to decide which league to play for if he gets offers from both.

The other five pitchers called back by the Toros were former local high school stars Jason Hanna (Palo Verde), Britt Echols (Rincon), Matt McCune (Catalina Foothills) and Tom Wilhelmsen (Tucson High) and Lyndon Poole of Glendale, Calif.

Asked what position he plays, Bell replied, “I don’t know. That’s no lie.

“The last few years I’ve been a shortstop, right fielder for another team and I’ve closed and played third. I’ve been pitching and I’ve been hitting.”

For his Tucson tryout, Bell listed himself as a pitcher.

“I came and filled out a position player’s card, but I asked them to give me a shot off the mound,” he said. “I’ve been closing the last couple of years for fun. I’ve got options and they got options, which is nice.”

Bell signed with Toronto as a free agent out of junior college as a pitcher in 2003. He was in the Blue Jays minor league system for three seasons before being released.

Bell has bounced around, playing in Europe, Australia and Venezuela. He was used mostly as a hitter. He batted .275 with a team leading nine home runs and 28 RBIs in Venezuela.

He’s hoping to earn a spot in the Toros training camp, which begins May 11 with 30 players. The season starts May 21, when Tucson needs to be down to a 22-man roster.

“You talk to scouts and they tell you to keep working on it. That’s why I am here,” Bell said. “Maybe I have a chance.”

And if he doesn’t make it here, at least he’s racked up a lot of frequent flier miles.


• Chico (Calif.) at Tucson, 7 p.m. May 21, Hi Corbett Field

• Tickets: 325-1010

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