However, manager Buck Showalter revealed to MASN Sports that Bell was in the running to be a utility infielder, backing up third and first base.
"I think Josh is going to come in here and have a really good spring," Showalter said, noting that Bell took a big step forward with his conditioning in the offseason. Bell is listed as 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds on player card, so he could have stood to lose some weight, which he appears to have done.
But how can Bell make the team if he would be limited to just third and first? Most managers like backup infield players to have more versatility.
"There's a way he can make this club if I feel like the at-bats are there for him, being a switch-hitter," Showalter revealed. "[Cesar Izturis] has the middle infield covered, so that guy doesn't necessarily have to be a guy who can play the middle of the infield."
Once (and still potentially) thought of as the O's third baseman of the future after being acquired from the Dodgers midway through the 2009 season, Bell hit Triple-A for the first time in 2010 as a 23-year-old. He impressed with a .278/.328/.481 line in 344 plate appearances along with 25 doubles and 13 home runs.
However, his major league stint was nothing short of disastrous, whiffing 53 times in 161 plate appearances, checking in with a .214/.224/.302 mark. That's simply brutal, even though Bell was just 23 and in his first taste of the majors. (It certainly doesn't mean Bell can't hit big league pitching -- Dustin Pedroia hit .198/.258/.303 in 98 PA in his first taste of the majors back in 2006.)
Although Showalter is leaving the door open for Bell to make the club as backup infielder, don't bet on it. It's far more important to Bell's development -- and Baltimore's future -- to amass at-bats on a regular basis down in Triple-A. Vet on Robert Andino or Nolan Reimold winning the extra spot.
-- Evan Brunell