In 2nd big league at-bat, Bucs' No. 3 prospect hits 1st career slam
By Sarah K. Spencer
PITTSBURGH -- For a few minutes, Josh Bell lost all concept of time.
In his second Major League at-bat, Bell crushed a grand slam to the top of the right-field bleachers, giving the Pirates a four-run lead in its eventual 12-6 win over the division-leading Cubs on Saturday.
He couldn't think straight, but felt pure joy as he rounded the bases to roaring applause from the PNC Park crowd, which asked -- and received -- a curtain call from the Pirates' third-ranked prospect.
"Two, three minutes seemed like an hour and a half," Bell said. "Everything that a kid wishes for as a baseball player. Growing up playing in the backyard with the bases loaded, first big league home run, can't ask for much more."
It was his second hit in as many at-bats in the Majors. Bell was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis to be a bat off the bench for the Pirates before the All-Star break, and he has done just that so far. In his first Major League at-bat on Saturday, Bell hit a single off Jake Arrieta, triggering a four-run seventh inning that resulted in a 7-4 lead.
"He's been here two days," outfielder Andrew McCutchen said. "This guy's had two at-bats and two big hits. That doesn't happen."
Bell is the 7th Pirates player with a grand slam for his first career home run, and the first since Enrique Romo in 1980. The 23-year-old rookie also is the first player with a pinch-hit grand slam within his first two career at-bats since Jeremy Hermida on Aug. 31, 2005, with the Marlins.
No one, including Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, predicted the sudden success Bell would have. The surreal few minutes was the stuff of sports movies. As Bell was jogging to home plate, Hurdle turned to first baseman David Freese in the dugout.
Josh Bell: 1st player with a PH grand slam within 1st 2 career AB since Jeremy Hermida on August 31, 2005 for the @Marlins
"I told him 'I've got goosebumps.' He said 'I've got chills running down my spine,'" Hurdle said.
It was just that kind of moment.
It doesn't hurt that this win puts the Pirates 6 1/2 games back of the Cubs, who have fallen to 52-35 amid recent struggles. Though Bell is making as much of a case as he can to stay with the Pirates, Pittsburgh has several decisions to make concerning its pitching rotation for the second half of the season. When Bell was called up, Tyler Glasnow was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis.
"We're taking it one day at a time," Hurdle said. "He'll be here tomorrow. We've got pitching plans to make."
Bell has only played in the Majors for two days, so it makes sense most people or players wouldn't know his name yet. But Adam Warren, the Cubs pitcher who allowed Bell's grand slam, didn't need to know any particular statistics.
"I know he can hit a hanging changeup," Warren said. "That's about it."
Sarah K. Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.