Pirates GM Neal Huntington said Sunday that Bell will see more action in the outfield after he was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis a day earlier, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. "It'll be just a refresher. He's very comfortable in the outfield, in fact he ran around the other day here in right field as we were working through when and if Gregory [Polanco's] going to be ready to go," Huntington said. "With what he's done offensively with the number of years, the number of balls he's taken in the outfield, we felt that he could be a very good fallback choice for us if there were an injury or something happened at the major league level and we needed another outfielder." Bell had played primarily first base this season at Indianapolis prior to his promotion to the big leagues earlier this month, but the Pirates are content with what John Jaso and David Freese have provided them at that position. However, with Bell slashing an impressive .324/.407/.535 at Triple-A and having little left to prove in the minors, the Pirates will try to find ways to increase his utility at the big-league level. Once he gets comfortable playing the outfield again, a promotion could come again in the next couple of weeks, and at the very latest, as a September call-up.
Bell was optioned back to Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune reports. Bell has logged only four plate appearances for the Pirates on the year, and he'll now return to Triple-A, where he holds a .324 average with 53 RBI through 83 games. The move comes in response to Gerrit Cole returning from the DL on Saturday.
Bell pinch-hit for the fourth consecutive game Friday, drawing a walk against Stephen Strasburg. Bell has yet to play in the field, even though Friday's game presented a good opportunity for him to get his feet wet with the Bucs down by four runs in the eighth. The team will need to clear a roster spot for Saturday's starter Gerrit Cole. Bell will either be sent to Triple-A or Gregory Polanco (hamstring) will go on the DL.
Despite an electric weekend debut, the Pirates are unwillingly to commit to Bell at first base because of his defense, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. He went 2-for-2 with a walk and a grand slam against the Cubs in three pinch-hitting opportunities but did not play in the field. Pirates GM Neal Huntington is looking for Bell to become a "ninth-inning defender." There was some talk that Pittsburgh could put him in right field Sunday with Gregory Polanco (hamstring) ailing, but manager Clint Hurdle didn't think that'd be fair after two years away from the outfield. The team has yet to reveal whether Bell, who's already made 10 errors at first base for Triple-A Indianapolis, will start the second half in the big league. Polanco's status will likely determine whether he remains with the Bucs or fights for the Triple Crown at Indy.
Bell walked and scored a run as a pinch hitter in Sunday's loss to the Cubs. While he didn't get a start over the weekend, Bell reached base and scored all three times he was called upon to pinch hit, rapping out a single Friday before launching a grand slam for his first big league homer Saturday. The Pirates' first baseman of the future might get sent back down after the All-Star break to make room for a pitcher, but it's not for lack of trying on his part.
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