KANSAS CITY -- The Josh Bell era has begun.
Almost a year to the day since the July 30, 2009, trade that sent touted prospect Bell from the Los Angeles Dodgers to Baltimore (along with right-hander Steve Johnson) in exchange for closer George Sherill, Bell was recalled Saturday to start a promising young career.
"As you know, he was up and down a few times [before], but now he is here to stay," interim manager Juan Samuel said of Bell, who exceeded expectations at Triple-A Norfolk and prompted Thursday's trade of Miguel Tejada.
"I just want him to relax and know that he's going to be out there every day," Samuel said. "A lot of times that gives these guys a lot of confidence knowing that they're going to be in there."
A 23-year-old switch-hitter, Bell hit .263 over six games in his first two Major League stints this season and had an eight-game hitting streak in Norfolk -- going 12-for-30 with a double, three homers and six RBIs -- after his most recent option on July 21.
"We expected him to struggle a little more at Triple-A this season," president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said of Bell, who entered big league Spring Training having never played higher than Double-A.
Instead, Bell flourished, giving MacPhail motivation to deal the veteran Tejada to San Diego and see what Baltimore's young corner infielder can do.
"We need to evaluate him and his Major League readiness," MacPhail said of Bell, who started at third base in Saturday's game. "And it will help prioritize our needs for next season."
Although he has been up twice, Bell said his nerves would still linger for a few more games. But knowing that he is with the Orioles for the foreseeable future is certainly a weight off his back.
"Everyone waits for that opportunity to make it to the big leagues and have an organization say, 'We want you to play every day and see what you can bring to the table,'" Bell said. "So, I'm excited for it. And I think I'm blessed to have that opportunity."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.