Does Josh Bell’s hot bat help him in the field for Pirates?
Josh Bell led the Pittsburgh Pirates in home runs with eight through 31 games (twice as many as his closest pursuers, Starling Marte and Jung Ho Kang).
Bell had 25 RBIs, and the next-best run producers — Marte and Colin Moran — combined for 27.
But perhaps the stat that most exemplifies how hard the former outfielder works is his total of three errors in 252 chances.
After making an error on Opening Day on March 28 in Cincinnati, he made none until back-to-back games in Los Angeles on April 27-28.
Before Tuesday’s game against the Texas Rangers, he had not made an error at PNC Park this season.
Clint Hurdle believes Bell’s effort is the product of hard work.
“This young man has worked as hard as anybody I’ve been around to improve defensively,” Hurdle said.
“There’s no replacing hard work in anything. Things don’t just happen. Josh has put in the time, the energy, the effort.
“He continues to challenge himself. I think he’s realistic in the nature of (trying to be) the best he can be. I anticipate him getting there. He’s not there yet.”
Hurdle also said Bell’s success at the plate might serve as an indirect benefit in the field.
“Is there a confidence that comes with banging the ball?” Hurdle said. “Probably a little bit, as well. Maybe you play a little freer, a little easier.”
Who’s on third?
Moran started at third base for the 12th time this season — the fifth in the past six games — as Kang remains in a seasonlong 12-for-82 slump.
It certainly isn’t because of Moran’s bat. He had only one hit in his previous 13 at-bats before Tuesday.
Hurdle warned not to read too much into the situation.
“It was trying to get Kang some time away, get him some work,” the manager said. “A combination of Colin and individual matchups provided us potentially better at-bats.
“Neither one of them is going to be banished.”
Hurdle was pleased to see Kang’s slump and his two throwing errors Friday didn’t linger throughout the weekend.
He turned a double play in the 13th inning Sunday against the A’s after fielding a ball that caromed off pitcher Tyler Lyons.
“If he’s not paying attention, not involved in the game, he doesn’t field that ball, he doesn’t turn a double play, we don’t get out of that inning,” Hurdle said. “I don’t know if we win the game. That shows me the separation of bat and ball, and he’s still engaged.”
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .