Twins bench coach Mike Bell takes leave for kidney cancer

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MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Twins bench coach Mike Bell has taken an indefinite leave from the team because of kidney cancer.

The 46-year-old Bell had surgery to remove the growth on Jan. 28, shortly after being diagnosed. He’s been recovering at home with his family in Arizona.

“He’s also very, very optimistic and also very encouraged and waiting for his return to the dugout,” manager Rocco Baldelli said Wednesday. “The situation, it’s obviously serious, but Mike has handled this with great courage.”

Bell was hired prior to the 2020 season to replace Derek Shelton, who departed to become manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bell is the younger brother of current Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell and the son of longtime major league player and manager Buddy Bell.

Baldelli said he won’t make any immediate changes to the coaching staff. The Twins have their first official workout for pitchers and catchers on Friday at spring training in Fort Myers, Florida, with the first full-squad workout following four days later.

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.