After day out of lineup and team day off, Josh Bell back hitting cleanup for Pirates on Friday
Over a 31-day span from April 28-May 29, Josh Bell had 12 home runs, 25 extra-base hits, a .402 average and herculean 1.278 OPS.
“Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world for Josh if he stayed in that spot the entire rest of his career?” Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle mused with a smile Friday. “That might be a bit much to ask.”
It absolutely would. But the .147 average and .495 OPS over his past 10 games heading into Friday? It’s not too much to ask Bell to be better than that, either.
In an effort to get Bell back to the slugging Bell of May, Hurdle kept Bell out of the lineup for Wednesday’s series finale in St. Louis (though Bell did pinch hit late). Coupled with a team day off Thursday, the idea was to let Bell “unplug.”
Hurdle didn’t say fatigue was dragging Bell down. But the manager did say, in general, that can happen.
“One thing I have always tried to get a feel on a guy is, ‘How do your arms feel? How do your hands feel?’” Hurdle said. “Foundation is important, so you talk about legs, but you need to talk about your hands and your arms. Because when they are not in sync and not working, rest is one of the options that you have.
“And people run to a lot of things when people aren’t hitting … Maybe he’s not hitting right now because he’s getting pitched different, or he’s not in a spot he was a month ago.”
— Pirates (@Pirates) May 29, 2019
Bell’s batting average dropped from a season-high of .345 on May 29 to .293 heading into Friday’s game. But even through that span, Bell has maintained an .804 OPS, primarily via a .495 slugging percentage and by walking on 13% of his plate appearances.
“That goes to his maturity as a hitter,” Hurdle said. “… Trying to add value any way you can.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .