Bell pain-free after facing Pirates pitchers

Bell pain-free after facing Pirates pitchers

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pirates first baseman Josh Bell took another step toward full recovery from offseason knee surgery, facing live pitching on Tuesday for the first time in Spring Training.

The switch-hitting Bell, who underwent the procedure a few weeks ago to remove a loose body in his left knee and help alleviate some discomfort, said he felt no pain while facing right-handers Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow at the Pirate City training complex.

Jaso glad to fill multiple roles for Bucs in '17

"The swing feels good. I'm just trying to take advantage of the reps I got this past week," Bell said. "Still find myself kind of jumping at baseballs at times, so just trying to let the ball get deep, and if I can do that, you know, that's where the damage comes."

Bucs manager Clint Hurdle said it was nice to see Bell return. Bell, who was the 61st selection of the 2011 Draft, hit .273 in 45 games last season.

"It was good to see him out on the field today," Hurdle said. "He was involved in all the different tasks, so good to see him in camp now, working hard to get a little bit better."

The only thing keeping him limited, Bell said, is waiting for the incision marks to completely heal. Otherwise, Bell said everything is "structurally sound" and that he has regained the range of motion he had prior to the surgery, which carried an estimated recovery time of two to four weeks.

Now, it's about getting the mechanics refined at the plate and first base, where Bell took ground balls during batting practice.

"It's just getting those live reps," he said. "It's one of those things where, for the most part this past week, I've had balls rolled at me. Today and [Monday] were the first time it was balls off the bat. It's just Fungo, it's all controlled, but I'm just trying to get back to that reaction time and first-step quickness.

"If I get those reads in, hopefully I can make up for this last week that I missed."

Jeff Odom is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.