Josh Bell Ringing With Opening Day Next Week

Pirates first baseman says new drills and a familiar lineup spot have him ready.

Jeff Hathhorn
March 20, 2018 - 7:41 am
Josh Bell

93.7 the Fan

With a couple of rocket homers in the last few Spring training games, Josh Bell says he feels really good at the plate with the season starting next week.  Bell says he now has a more realistic mentality at the plate.

“Not practicing for perfect, but hoping for three out of 10, four out of ten perfect barrels,” Bell said.  “My misses are hopefully in the air, so I can fly out rather than ground out; just making it more like the game.”

To accomplish this, Bell and hitting coach Jeff Branson are working to speed up his reaction time.  Branson is standing closer to Bell during drills to simulate faster pitches.

“Do what I can to get my body in the right position to match up with higher velocities,” Bell said.  “So if I’m preparing for 98 mph, when I see 92 in a game, it should be that much easier, rather than the other way around.”

Bell found success in his first full year in the majors, hitting 26 homers and driving in 90.  About 70 percent of his opportunities came hitting clean-up, where he had his highest average along with most homers and RBIs.

“I definitely like hitting fourth,” the Pirates first baseman said.  “I definitely like solidifying myself there.  It’s nice going to the field and knowing where you are going to hit.  It’s nice knowing who is going to hit behind you and hit in front of you.”

Bell said he will miss having Andrew McCutchen in front of him and says he doesn’t know what the lineup will look like.  Manager Clint Hurdle is still working on it, but has said Adam Frazier will lead-off when he plays, Jordy Mercer will hit eighth and all others are variables, except for Bell hitting fourth.

“If there were more speed he would hit in a different spot,” Hurdle said.  “He is what he is.  He’s a run producer and I think clean-up fits him very well.”