Pirates option prospect Bell to Triple-A

First baseman sent down to clear roster spot for returning Cole

Pirates option prospect Bell to Triple-A

WASHINGTON -- A perfect 1.000 on-base percentage wasn't enough to keep Josh Bell in the Major Leagues.

The Pirates optioned the rookie first baseman to Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday to clear room for right-hander Gerrit Cole to return from the disabled list.

In one week in the big leagues, Bell -- the Pirates' No. 3 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com -- batted four times and reached base each time, with a single, a grand slam and two walks.

"He's created a very positive wake whenever we've interacted with him, whenever he's shown up," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He uses his ears well, he uses his eyes well, he respects everything, he fears nothing, he goes out and works hard."

Though Bell is Major League ready as a hitter, he still has room to improve in the field. Hurdle said the 23-year-old has been working hard on starting double plays, fielding bunts and other first-base duties and that he will benefit from gaining game experience at Triple-A.

Hurdle optimistic about Polanco

Gregory Polanco has not played since July 8 due to a left hamstring injury, but Hurdle said he is optimistic the outfielder won't need to go on the disabled list.

Hurdle pointed to Tuesday against the Brewers as a potential return date for Polanco, but he said the team would monitor his progression. If the Pirates do not place Polanco on the disabled list within 10 days of his last appearance, they lose the opportunity to DL him retroactively.

Vogelsong progressing

Ryan Vogelsong, who has been on the disabled list since being hit in the face with a pitch on May 23, made his second rehab start Friday. Pitching for Double-A Altoona, Vogelsong threw six scoreless innings, allowing two hits and two walks.

Hurdle said he was glad Vogelsong had an opportunity Friday to square around to bunt and cover home plate, tasks pitchers don't always get a chance to practice during rehab stints. Hurdle suggested Vogelsong will make another rehab start next week.

Alex Putterman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.