MADISON, Ala. (WAFF) - The Rocket City Trash Pandas have announced Major League Baseball veteran Jay Bell as the team’s first manager by the Los Angeles Angels.
Madison’s new minor league team is a double-A affiliate of the Angels.
Bell is a veteran of 18 major league seasons, He was a two-time All-Star and played for five major league teams, was the manager for the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders, the New York Yankees triple-A affiliate in 2019, where his team won the International League Northern Division a 76-65 record.
Bell played for the Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals, Diamondbacks and New York Mets. During his time with the Diamondbacks, Bell scored the winning run in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series against the Yankees.
In his career, Bell hit .265 with 1,964 hits and scored 1,123 runs. He had 195 home runs and 860 RBIs to go with 394 doubles, 67 triples and 91 stolen bases.
He was named to the National League All-Star team in 1993 and 1999. He’s also won the National League Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award.
“Reuniting Minor League Baseball with Madison and the greater Huntsville area is thrilling,” Bell said. “I am ecstatic to manage the first Trash Pandas team and cannot wait to go to work daily at Toyota Field.
“I’m excited for our new state-of-the-art facility and I am certain the fan experience here will be second to none. Although I can’t promise a championship, I will promise that the players who play for Rocket City will represent the fans, city, and the Angels organization well," he said.
Trash Pandas president and CEO Ralph Nelson, who signed Bell as a player with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1998, praised the Angels’ choice.
“I have known Jay for 23 years and can’t think of anyone better qualified to be the manager of the Trash Pandas than he is,” said Nelson. “He is unsurpassed in his knowledge of the game of baseball – both off the field and on. Importantly, he brings championship experience to our dugout.
“But personally, I am most excited for our community to learn what I’ve known for decades – that Jay Bell is a man of exemplary character and integrity who will lead our young players by example. He was also one of the smartest players I encountered in my 25 years in MLB. I have little doubt he will be a major league manager in the not so distant future.”
The Trash Pandas also announced their inaugural coaching staff. Tim Norton comes with Bell from the Yankees and will serve as pitching coach. Matt Spring has been named hitting coach. Derek Florko is the defensive coach. Matt Morrell, who was team trainer last season in Mobile, will serve the same role with the Trash Pandas. John Hill rounds out the staff as strength and conditioning coach.
“I’m excited about sharing my vision with the players entrusted to me this season. I have high expectations for them and my staff,” Bell said. “We will work hard, play hard, and will constantly seek excellence.”
“As a former All-Star, Gold Glove winner, and World Series champion, Jay brings to the Angels organization a tremendous level of experience and knowledge from his playing and coaching career,” said Los Angeles Angels General Manager Billy Eppler; “We are excited about the leadership that he will bring to our club in Rocket City and look forward to having him lead the Trash Pandas in their inaugural season.”