Bell, a full participant in the Pirates' mid-January minicamp in Bradenton, Fla., recently informed the club he was feeling some discomfort in the knee. He was evaluated by the Pirates' medical staff in Pittsburgh and by Dr. Keith Meister in Arlington, Texas. They determined a loose body in his knee was causing the pain, so Bell had surgery to remove it.
Bell sat out most of the 2012 season, his first in professional baseball, after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, and he missed some time in '14 due to a bone bruise in the same knee.
The 24-year-old rookie, ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the Majors' 27th best prospect, is projected to be Pittsburgh's everyday first baseman after making his Major League debut last season. He batted .273/.368/.406 with three home runs and more walks (21) than strikeouts (19) in 45 games.
With a two-week recovery, Bell would only be slightly behind his teammates when Spring Training begins. If his recovery takes four weeks, Bell would still have a month to prepare for Opening Day.
Even if Bell is not ready for Opening Day, the Pirates have a backup plan in first-base platoon John Jaso and David Freese, who manned the position last season. Jaso is also expected to see time in the outfield, with Freese backing up Jung Ho Kang at third base.
The Pirates have additional first-base depth on the 40-man roster in Jose Osuna and with non-roster invitees Jason Rogers and Joey Terdoslavich.
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.