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Pirates notebook: Prospect Bell's recovery behind schedule

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates prospect Josh Bell works out during spring training at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.

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Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012, 5:10 p.m.

CHICAGO — Top outfield prospect Josh Bell is slightly behind schedule in his return from knee surgery but still is making what assistant general manager Kyle Stark called “a slow and steady” recovery.

His return has been slowed by frequent swelling in his left knee.

“He continues to advance his activities, including baseball activities, but we haven't quite gotten over the hump yet,” Stark said.

Bell is able to run and make cuts, which signals he's getting close to starting a rehab assignment.

The 19-year-old had surgery April 27 to repair meniscus in his left knee, which he tore while running the bases in a game with Low-A West Virginia. The Pirates remain optimistic Bell will return before the end of the season.

“We will be creative this offseason to get him at-bats in some of the lower-level winter ball leagues, pending his health and needs, to be ready for next spring,” Stark said.

In 15 games with West Virginia, Bell hit .274 with one home run and 11 RBI and had a .691 OPS. He also made two errors in the outfield.

• First baseman Gaby Sanchez and right-hander Chad Qualls, who were acquired in trades Tuesday, joined the team Wednesday. Reliever Daniel McCutchen was sent back to Triple-A Indianapolis. Sanchez started at first base and batted fourth Wednesday against the Cubs, going 0 for 2 with a walk. Garrett Jones pinch hit for Sanchez in the eighth.

• Sanchez was on paternity leave, at the hospital with his wife and newborn daughter, when he found out he had been traded. Sky Sanchez was born July 27. “It's been a crazy few days, that's for sure,” Sanchez said. “It's one of those good things, too, to become a father and then to be traded to a team that's playing really well. That's all you can ask for.”

• Manager Clint Hurdle meets with each arriving player for about 10 minutes. “I give him a quick thumbnail sketch of what's going on, who we are, where we're headed and the importance of him being here,” Hurdle said. Before batting practice Wednesday, Hurdle gathered the entire team for a quick meeting. “It's important the players that their jobs haven't changed,” Hurdle said. “If there's any manager or general manager in them, they've got to let that go. Let's go play and see where we take it.”

• Right-hander Kyle Kaminska, who was acquired from the Miami Marlins in the Sanchez trade, was assigned to Double-A Altoona.

— Rob Biertempfel

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