Prospect Bell gets 1st big league start

Prospect Bell gets 1st big league start

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates fans have been clamoring for first baseman/outfielder Josh Bell to join the big league club. A shoulder injury that landed third baseman Jung Ho Kang on the 15-day disabled list created an opportunity for Bell, who made his first Major League start at first base in Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Marlins at PNC Park.

Bell went 1-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and a strikeout.

This is the second stint for Bell with the Pirates. He made his Major League debut on July 8, singling off Cubs ace Jake Arrieta. The following day, he smacked a pinch-hit grand slam off Adam Warren. In five plate appearances, the switch-hitter went 2-for-3 with a pair of walks.

At Triple-A Indianapolis, Bell hit .295 with 14 home runs and 60 RBIs in 114 games. Defense was the reason Bell was not promoted permanently, despite his offensive prowess. He committed 14 errors at first base and one in right field this season.

"He's still a work in progress," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Matter of fact, in the game before we called him up, he made two errors. It's a work in progress. John Jaso is a better defensive first baseman than Josh is right now. It's a matter of fact, so when he's over there starting, we will look for opportunities to get at-bats, make the plays that he can make and do the job that he can do and defend for him later as we've done in the past. He's working hard to get better every day."

In 31 games since returning to the Minors in mid-July, Bell hit only .211 with a .312 on-base percentage and a .275 slugging percentage (four doubles, one homer). He has, however, walked 16 times and struck out 19.

"It's definitely different once you get the taste," Bell said. "Once you get the actuality of what the game is up here, it's something that I had to work through for a little bit, just getting my bearings back underneath me. Once I got back into it, I started stringing together some good at-bats."

Added Hurdle: "This is the final question for guys all over the place on everything, to find your rhythm and your rhyme at this speed. Triple-A speed is not Major League speed. Triple-A competition is not Major League competition."

George Von Benko is a contributor for based in Pittsburgh. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.