Pirates’ problem may be that hitting slumps can be contagious | TribLIVE.com
Pirates/MLB

Pirates’ problem may be that hitting slumps can be contagious

Jerry DiPaola
1438290_web1_GTR-BucsEarly02-072319
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates third baseman Colin Moran walks back to the dugout after striking out with the bases loaded during the first inning against the Cardinals Monday, July 22, 2019, at PNC Park.
1438290_web1_GTR-BucsEarly03-072319
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates left fielder Corey Dickerson strikes out with the bases loaded during the first inning against the Cardinals Monday, July 22, 2019, at PNC Park.
1438290_web1_GTR-BucsEarly01-072319
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates first baseman Josh Bell strikes out swinging with a runner in scoring position to end the third inning against the Phillies Sunday, July 21, 2019, at PNC Park.

Don’t try to convince Josh Bell participating in the Home Run Derby has contributed to the hitting slump he carried into the Pittsburgh Pirates’ four-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night.

He was struggling at the plate before he sold out for home runs July 8 at the Derby.

It’s something he readily admits.

“If you look at the numbers before the break,” he said, “they weren’t pretty, either.”

Bell is hitting .138 since coming off the All-Star break, with no home runs and one RBI (although he continues to lead the majors with 85 RBIs).

But he is correct about the slump starting before the break. He hasn’t homered since July 5, and he was hitless in seven of 10 games from June 28-July 7.

“Not squaring balls up as much,” said Bell, who was hitting .289 before Monday’s game after peaking at .345 on May 29. “So, I am just trying to turn things around right now and continue to work and continue to sell out to a plan.

“I still feel like I am missing it a little bit on pitches, taking balls in zones where I maybe should look for (balls to hit). Just kind of one step behind.”

Bell has been shouldering a big part of the offensive load most of the season. He has 32 more RBIs than the next player on the list (Starling Marte).

The Pirates’ lineup Monday night against the Cardinals at PNC Park included all but catcher Elias Diaz hitting at least .276. But it’s a misleading stat.

The Pirates had scored just 25 runs in nine games (2-7) after totaling 56 in the previous seven.

“That’s not going to do you real good at this level,” manager Clint Hurdle said.

Hurdle said hitting slumps by a few players sometimes can infect others.

“We’ve had this conversation about contagions since I’ve been here. I think it’s all contagious,” he said. “Your goal is to make the guys’ (at-bats) who bat behind you easier than yours and hold onto to that and know you are enough. When either one or two or three guys fall off, you don’t try to pick up your slack, his slack and somebody else’s slack. You have to stay in your lanes.”

He also admitted that as the Pirates fall out of the National League Central and wild-card playoff races, some players might be pressing too hard.

Monday, the Pirates entered the final series of an important 26-game stretch with a 10-12 record. After advancing within 2 ½ games of first place at the break, they were 7 ½ behind the Chicago Cubs before Monday’s game.

“Part of it could be coming out (of the All-Star break), being close, and now we have a chance to move and we didn’t,” Hurdle said. “We’ve all run through times in our lives, whether it’s sports-related or something else, where we don’t get the immediate result we want that day. We try harder the next day, and the third day we try even harder than that. We could have some of that.

“Sometimes, it’s been very good pitching that we matched up against, but I still believe we got enough that when we just take care of our skills, we (are) in a better place offensively.”

https://triblive.com/sports/pirates/

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Pirates
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.