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Return to Pirates' lineup on horizon for Bell

MLB.com

BRADENTON, Fla. -- If all goes well, Pirates first baseman Josh Bell could be back in the lineup at some point next week.

Bell is in the "final stages" of game preparation following Feb. 1 surgery to remove a loose body from his left knee, head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said Wednesday. The plan is to have Bell run the bases and participate in simulated games later this week. He has been hitting, fielding and running on the field.

BRADENTON, Fla. -- If all goes well, Pirates first baseman Josh Bell could be back in the lineup at some point next week.

Bell is in the "final stages" of game preparation following Feb. 1 surgery to remove a loose body from his left knee, head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said Wednesday. The plan is to have Bell run the bases and participate in simulated games later this week. He has been hitting, fielding and running on the field.

Spring: Tickets | Ballpark | 40-man roster | NRIs

Immediately after Bell's surgery, the Pirates said his status for Opening Day was to be determined. With about a month left in Spring Training before the Bucs' first game at Fenway Park on April 3, it seems likely Bell will be ready for the start of the season.

Trainer's room
• Catcher Francisco Cervelli (right foot discomfort) played his first Spring Training game on Tuesday and "came out of the game well," Tomczyk said. The Pirates will closely monitor Cervelli's status as he joins Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic, but his sore foot is not expected to be an issue.

"The quote from Francisco was he wasn't even thinking about his right foot," Tomczyk said.

• Catcher Chris Stewart (knee surgery in September) is being brought along slowly "with the goal of managing his workload early and to prepare him for the 2017 season." Stewart has not yet played in a Spring Training game, but he will soon catch bullpen sessions and simulated games.

• Right-handers Brandon Cumpton (Tommy John surgery, shoulder surgery) and Jason Stoffel (right shoulder discomfort) are throwing off flat ground. Casey Sadler and Angel Sanchez, both coming back from Tommy John surgery, are nearly ready to pitch in simulated games.

"They're where they need to be right now," Tomczyk said. "We'll make adjustments, increase their workload or decrease their workload accordingly."

Pre-arb contracts settled
The Pirates agreed to terms with 21 pre-arbitration eligible players on contracts for this season.

With 19 others previously determined through guaranteed deals or the arbitration process, everyone on Pittsburgh's 40-man roster now has a salary set for this year.

Second time around
Reliever Jared Hughes gave up five runs (four earned) on three hits and two walks while recording one out in his spring debut on Sunday, but he was better Wednesday at Hammond Stadium. Hughes permitted a hit and a walk but finished a scoreless inning with two ground-ball outs in the Pirates' 3-1 win over the Twins.

"Right now, I'm making the adjustments needed," Hughes said. "I came out in that first outing last week, and it wasn't very good. I was on the side of the ball. It was just kind of an inconsistent mess, if you will. … We're starting to see a little bit of an adjustment, and it's getting a little better."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Josh Bell