Bell Says Pirates Fan Support ‘Unbelievable’

Bucs first baseman might switch-hit in HR Derby if invited

Jeff Hathhorn
June 27, 2019 - 2:15 pm

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Related: Final Push Underway To Vote Josh Bell Into The All-Star Game

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PITTSBURGH (93.7 the Fan) – Before the Pirates closed their series with the Astros Thursday, first baseman Josh Bell thanked Bucco fans trying to get him the start at first base for the All-Star Game in Cleveland next month.

“It’s unbelievable,” Bell told MLB Network of the fans who attended the Josh Bell voting party at PNC Park Wednesday.  “You don’t see it across the league, to get that kind of backing, to open up the stadium for me last night.” 

“We’re not there, we are in Houston obviously, I see kids running around the stadium playing corn hole and what not, trying to get support.  You know it’s unbelievable and I’m happy to have it.”

Bell is battling Atlanta’s Freddy Freeman and the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo, both multiple time All-Stars, in an on-line vote to be named the starter for the National League.

“It’s just crazy to be a part of the conversation honestly,” Bell said.  “Freeman and Rizzo are guys that I was looking at in the minor-leagues just a few years back.  Guys that are idols of mine, so just to be a part of that three man combo is unbelievable.”

Still just 26 and playing in his 430th game on Thursday, Bell leads Major League Baseball in RBI, extra-base hits, doubles and average exit velocity.  Bell is also top 10 in the National League in homers, triples, hits, runs, OBP, OPS, slugging percentage and average.

“A lot of work in the winter, I only took three weeks off,” Bell told the MLB Network.  “I got after it a little bit.” 

“Coming in this spring, Rick Eckstein (Pirates hitting coach) and Jacob Cruz (Pirates assistant hitting coach), we were working from day one at camp trying to find something that will work at this level.”

“For the most part, I’m trying to stay more stacked and use my long levers.  Trying to get extended on balls and hit balls out in front.  If I can do that, with the velo these days, if I stay connected and through the ball, the ball is going to go.”

The former first round pick is a .320 hitter from the left-side with twice as many homers, but says it’s harder for him to hit against righties.

“I work so much harder lefty than I do righty,” Bell said.  “I’m sure a lot of switch-hitters will say this; it’s the same move we make when we throw the ball, so it comes more naturally.  For the most part lefty is something I have to continue to work on, continue to stay stacked with.  It’s just hitting with those athletic movements, so I have to continue to practice them.”

Bell has 21 homers on the year, hit a pair out of PNC Park and also hit a total of three over 460 feet.  So you would think Bell will get a lot of consideration for the Home Run Derby in a couple of weeks.

“I’ve been thinking about that a ton, I feel like it would be really cool to be able to switch off,” Bell said of potentially switch-hitting during the Derby.  “But, I heard there is a bonus for longer balls, so I would definitely have to go lefty.  I’ve never seen anyone switch back and forth, so it’s kind of in the back of my mind if I get invited.”

Whether he gets the start or makes the Home Run Derby, bouncing back from a 12 homer season has put Texas native in a position to fulfill a dream.

“Watching the red carpet ceremony the last few years and thinking about what it would be like to take the field for the first time is definitely special,” Bell said of the All-Star Game.  “I have my fingers crossed for sure.”

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