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Cleveland — Chad Bell had left the Mud Hens in Indianapolis on Wednesday and checked into a hotel in Toledo to prepare for his scheduled start in the home opener at Fifth Third Field on Thursday.

He flipped on MLB Network and started to walk out of the room.

“I heard them say (Jordan) Zimmermann,” Bell said. “I walked back in and saw what happened to him. It was scary and I’m thankful he’s all right.”

Then Bell started doing the math. He was on schedule to pitch multiple innings Thursday. The Tigers, after Zimmermann was hit in the face with a line drive, used their bullpen for 8.1 innings Wednesday.

“In that moment, I was like, ‘Somebody’s got to be ready to come help out,’” he said. “I was on my day, so I’ve kind of been preparing for whatever. But really, I am just thankful Zimm is all right and he’s going to make his next start.”

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The call came around 10:30 p.m. The Tigers sent struggling left fielder Mikie Mahtook to Toledo and recalled the left-handed Bell.

“He’s got some innings in him and we just have to protect ourselves,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Coming up, we’ve got a lot of games in a row with a doubleheader down the road (April 20). We have to make sure we get through this part of it.”

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Daniel Norris threw 64 pitches Wednesday and Drew VerHagen threw 34. Both will be unavailable for a couple of days.

“This move was about the pitching situation more than anything,” Gardenhire said. “We have to get Mahtook going. But I was perfectly happy with him working his butt off up here and trying to find it as we went along.

“But that didn’t work out right now. We needed to protect ourselves pitching-wise.”

JaCoby Jones, who started Thursday, and Victor Reyes will platoon in left field for the time being.

And Bell, one of the final cuts this spring, will work in long relief.

“Everything is good,” said Bell, who worked 3.1 innings for the Mud Hens last Saturday. “I’ve thrown up to 50 pitches. I got into the fourth inning, which from where I started — I was pitching one and two innings in spring training — I feel pretty good to be built up to that point.

“I feel good. I feel sharp. I just want to be consistent here and help the team as best I can.”

chris.mccosky@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/cmccosky

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