Pirates' Josh Bell knows he has 'huge shoes to fill'
BRADENTON, Fla. — In what he called a “roller-coaster ride of a week” that saw the Pirates trade Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen in a 48-hour span last month, Josh Bell decided to take a hiatus from social media.
Where Josh Harrison publicly requested a trade last month, Bell privately hoped that the two-time All-Star would reconsider “because he's going to be a huge part of this lineup and our defense.”
“You don't want to lose three All-Stars in an offseason,” Bell said, “so I'm definitely hoping he comes back.”
Bell lamented the loss of McCutchen, especially because he batted behind the five-time All-Star in 67 of the final 85 games of last season.
“I loved hitting behind Cutch, for sure,” said Bell, who batted .255 with 26 home runs and 90 RBI. “That's one of those things where you get into the routine of everything, and it didn't really matter if you're (batting) four or five. I just watch Cutch, and generally he's on first.”
Bell said the trade rumors both before and after McCutchen's final season with the Pirates prepared him for the trade.
But Bell believes it's too early for him to take the torch as the next face of the franchise.
“I've got huge shoes to fill, especially coming up after that (20-year) drought, so hopefully there's not another 20 without Cutch,” Bell said. “We'll definitely see what happens. I'm excited for opportunities to come this year, but I don't think I'm going to focus on trying to fill that man's shoes.”
Instead, Bell arrived in Pirate City early so he could get into his routine. He is intent on following veterans like David Freese, Harrison and Sean Rodriguez, the most experienced players on an otherwise young roster.
“Look at their work days and the personalities in the clubhouse, the leaders that they are,” Bell said. “I'm excited for them to come down next week, and get together and get to work again.
When reminded that he wears dreadlocks and a goatee, like McCutchen did early in his career with the Pirates, Bell just shrugged and smiled.
“I'm trying with that, trying with the flow,” Bell said. “Hopefully, it works out for me that way, as well. Hopefully, I find myself on an All-Star team in a couple years.”