Bells making Fall League a family affair

Father Jay managing Brantley on Scottsdale squad

Bells making Fall League a family affair

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Fall League -- with players and coaches from different organizations sharing a single clubhouse -- often acts as a place for new friendships and bonds to form.

For the Bells, the Fall League is an opportunity to strengthen a bond between father and son.

Not only are Jay (an 18-year Major Leaguer, two-time All Star and 2001 World Series champion) and Brantley (an infielder in the Reds system) participating in the AFL, but both are on the Scottsdale Scorpions roster, with Jay managing Brantley for the first time in several years.

"It's been great after games, just driving home talking about baseball," said Brantley. "It's fun, living at home again. Baseball is both our passions, so it's been awesome so far."

Jay, who just completed his first season as manager of the Class A Advanced Tampa Yankees, has wanted to manage in the AFL for a while, and the fact that he's getting a chance to spend so much time with one of his sons is an extra blessing.

"It's a huge thrill to be able to come here and manage," Jay said. "I've wanted to manage in the Fall League for a long time. To have the opportunity to manage him too makes it that much sweeter."

Although he was elated to have the chance to manage his son, Jay had to sit on the news for about a week.

When Jay found out he was managing and that Brantley would be on his team, the Reds had yet to tell Brantley, something Jay wanted the team to have an opportunity to do.

Jay Bell's son drafted by Reds

The two talked nearly every day, with Jay keeping the secret from his son, but once Brantley found out he was headed to Arizona, he understood why his dad had kept it from him.

"I called him and was like, 'Why didn't you tell me?'" Brantley said. "But he wanted my coaches to tell me. That's one of his favorite parts about managing, he said. Giving the guys the bump up to Double-A or Triple-A is so much fun because he enjoyed that as a player. He takes so much pleasure in our success, he enjoys every single part of this."

As someone who tries to treat all his players as if they are his own kids, Jay truly enjoys watching his players succeed. Jay, a first-round pick of the Twins in the 1984 Draft, has been in professional baseball for over 30 years and knows how grueling and challenging the game can be.

Brantley, an 11th-round pick from the 2015 Draft, is still learning about life as a professional. The 22-year-old hit .232/.293/.300 across 125 games with Class A Dayton and Class A Advanced Daytona this season, but he has a chance to take his game to the next level playing against the advanced competition the AFL offers. Through his first 10 games, he was hitting .262 with six runs, four RBIs, two walks and three stolen bases.

"It thrills me," Jay said. "I don't know where he's going in this game, it's a hard game. I hope he has an opportunity to go to the big leagues and is there a long time, but there's no guarantees. For him to have this opportunity right now is pretty special."

While the duo is relishing the time together and enjoying sharing a dugout, they certainly aren't the only ones excited about the current arrangement.

"My mom loves it," Brantley said. "She knows baseball really well because of my dad, but anything I do she makes it seem better than it is. She's loving smothering me with all that stuff. It's been great, I love her cooking, can't get much better than that."

William Boor is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.