Bell expects to be ready for Opening Day

Bucs' first baseman working back from left knee surgery

Bell expects to be ready for Opening Day

BRADENTON, Fla. -- When the Pirates announced on Feb. 1 that Josh Bell underwent surgery on his left knee, the club listed his Opening Day status as "to be determined." But it's not a question for him.

Bell thinks he'll be ready, and he believes the nonstop work he put in this offseason will pay off when he gets back on the field.

"We'll see how I feel when I get out there," Bell said. "I definitely trust my preparation in the past and this offseason. ... I had my swing down. I feel like it's just going to be a timing thing more than anything else, which is what Spring Training is for."

Bell, who took up yoga this offseason, said he was doing a "fire hydrant" pose when he noticed he couldn't fully flex his knee. He alerted head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk and had surgery three days later. Bell said the knee feels better than it did before the operation, which was done to remove a loose body.

The club estimated Bell would need 2-4 weeks to return to baseball activities. He is nearing the two-week mark and hopes to resume hitting later this week after throwing on Monday. The Pirates' first full-squad workout will take place Friday, and Bell may not be far behind his teammates.

"At first I was like, ugh, couldn't this have happened in December? And my family was like, 'Well, thank goodness it didn't happen in July,'" Bell said. "It happened at an opportune-enough time where I can get it taken care of and get back on the field for Opening Day. That's what I'm hoping for."

Bell on conditioning with yoga

Here in a hurry
Infielder Phil Gosselin had to make significant last-minute changes to his Spring Training plans when he was dealt Friday from the D-backs to the Pirates.

Gosselin, expected to compete for a spot on Pittsburgh's Opening Day roster, spent most of the offseason in Arizona. Then came word he was traded. Gosselin, 28, rushed to pack up his house, ship out his car and book a flight to Florida.

"It's been a crazy few days," he said Monday in the Pirate City clubhouse.

Gosselin is from eastern Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia -- yes, he admitted, he grew up a Phillies and Flyers fan -- so he'd be closer to home in Pittsburgh than Arizona. He said he admired the Pirates from afar as a "winning organization" and looks forward to meeting his new teammates.

"We'll develop relationships hopefully as the season and spring go on and we're together more and more," Gosselin said. "I've played against a lot of these guys, respect them. A lot of good players in here. I think it'll be easy once we get going on the field. It's kind of a common denominator for all of us."

Around the horn
• Right-hander Lisalverto Bonilla was claimed off waivers by the Reds. The Pirates signed Bonilla to a Major League deal worth $575,000 in November and designated him for assignment last week to make room on the 40-man roster for Pat Light.

The Pirates hope to retain right-hander Nefi Ogando, who was designated last week to clear a spot for Gosselin. The Bucs will know Tuesday if Ogando clears waivers; if so, he will report to big league camp as a non-roster invitee.

• Closer Tony Watson's arbitration hearing is scheduled for this week. Watson reportedly filed for a $6 million salary, while the Bucs countered with a $5.6 million offer.

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.