Bell: "I’d Say I am Definitely Heating up Right Now."

The Pirates first baseman is hitting the ball well after a slow start to the season.

Noah Hiles
May 18, 2018 - 9:40 pm

© Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

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PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – As the weather begins to warm up in the Steel City, so does the bat of Pirates first baseman Josh Bell. After hitting .232 in the opening month of the season Bell has gone on to post monster numbers in the month of May, with a slash line of .364/.463/.636 along with hitting four doubles, a triple, two home runs and batting 10 runs in.

“I don’t think I was going through necessarily a slump, it think it was just part of the game.” Said Bell when asked about his slow start in the beginning of the season. “Getting used to the cold, a lot of lineouts and a lot of missed opportunities. I’d say I am definitely heating up right now.  I just got off to a slower start than what I would’ve liked to but hopefully I can make up for it in these next few months.”

Entering this season, Bell was looked at as one of, if not the most dangerous hitters in the Pirates lineup. Though he has had time to see and take note of how pitchers are attacking him as such, for Bell his personal focus remains on staying consistent rather than making changes to his approach.

“I came out this spring feeling really good and then I was kind of just adjusting with the game,” said Bell. “For the most part I’m just trying to keep my hands tight and get my timing on point for each starter and just role from there with everybody coming out of the bullpen.”

An area of the game Bell has thrived in all season has hitting with runners on base. As the Pirates enter their game against the Padres on Friday, Bell is hitting .319 (15-47) with five doubles a home run and 22 runs batted in with runners in scoring position. For Bell, the big moments of the game are where he feels most comfortable.

“The pressure is on them from that point on,” said Bell. “I feel like pitchers are more likely to make mistake some of them are more likely to throw balls way out of the zone. I don’t try to nibble or anything so its either they’re making mistakes over the heart of the plate or they’re missing by a lot. When you’re playing with the guys in front of you that are raking and have a guy behind you in Corey Dickerson, they’d rather pitch to me right now than pitch to him.”

Of the many different situations Bell has been in at the plate this season, he seems to thrive in short at bats. Bell entered Friday hitting .328 with five doubles, two homeruns and 14 RBIs in at bats that last three pitches or less. When he puts the first pitch in play, Bell has a .423 batting average which includes four doubles a homerun and seven RBI.

“I feel like that is probably similar with the rest of the  league,” said Bell when these numbers were brought to his attention. “I feel that OPS probably goes down as the course of the at bat goes on, especially with strikes. As long as I am doing damage in those counts, I am not just trying to put the ball in play for the sake of putting the ball in play. If I get a pitch in my zone and I can put a nice swing on it, that is when I do the nice damage.”

The Pirates are one of the few teams in today’s game that put more of an emphasis on hitting for contact rather than power. When asked if he feels that his approach fits in well with his teams overall strategy at the plate, Bell said, “I never really looked at myself as a true power hitter. I always like to think of myself as someone who hits for average over power. Last year was kind of between the two so hopefully I can steer more towards average and still have the power numbers as summer heats up and the ball goes a little bit further. If I can look up after the summer and have my average at where I want it to be, the RBIs are going to be there and the run production will be there as well.”