Bell, a nine-year veteran, spent seven turbulent years with the Toronto Blue Jays before being signed as a free agent by the Cubs in December 1990 for a guaranteed $9.8 million over three years.
Bell, 32, has averaged 154 games, 28 home runs and 100 RBI during his eight full seasons in the major leagues. He won the Most Valuable Player award in 1987 after hitting .308 with 47 home runs and 134 RBI for the Blue Jays.
The left fielder hit .285 with 25 home runs and 86 RBI for the Cubs last year.
* ATHLETICS: Outfielder Dave Henderson strained his right hamstring and might miss the season opener April 6.
Jose Canseco suffered a bruised left elbow when he was hit by a pitch, and Joe Slusarski was scratched from today's start against the San Francisco Giants because of an inflamed tendon in the middle finger of his right hand.
Non-roster right-handed relievers Rich Gossage and Jeff Parrett have made the Athletics' 25-man roster that will start the season, manager Tony La Russa announced after trimming the roster to 31 players with a five-man cut.
* YANKEES: Reliever Steve Howe said he was "scared to death" after his arrest on cocaine charges and signed a confession out of fear his house and pickup truck would be seized.
"I was so distraught, scared, upset, angry, that I just wanted to get it over with," Howe testified in federal court.
But the three drug agents said Howe was under no coercion to write or sign the five-page confession.
"He was given an opportunity to write a statement, and we let him." said Wes Hearon, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent. He described Howe as eager to prove he was not involved in a drug ring operating in the area.
* ANGELS: Citing Gary DiSarcina's progress, manager Buck Rodgers said that DiSarcina will replace Dick Schofield as the starting shortstop this season.
Second baseman Bobby Rose, DiSarcina's double-play partner in the minor leagues, will flank DiSarcina in the revamped infield, replacing Luis Sojo.
* METS: General manager Al Harazin indicated that he has begun a behind-the-scenes effort to end the players' media ban. Harazin wouldn't reveal his solution, but says the front office has been in touch with commissioner Fay Vincent and conceded, "There is concern."
"I hope we'll make some progress this week," Harazin said as the clubhouse entered its fourth day of silence. "We're all working on some way to end what's a difficult situation, but I don't feel comfortable talking about it yet."
* PIRATES: Doug Drabek, about to begin what could be his final season in Pittsburgh, said he doesn't know when negotiations with the Pirates on a long-term contract will resume.
Drabek's agents, Randy and Alan Hendricks, haven't heard from the Pirates since they rejected a four-year, $18.5 million offer more than three weeks ago.