Bell feels 'really good' in return to lineup

March 6th, 2017

BRADENTON, Fla. -- A little more than a month after undergoing surgery on his left knee, Pirates first baseman Josh Bell made his Spring Training debut on Monday at LECOM Park.

Bell started at first base, went 0-for-2 with a walk and played five innings in the Pirates' 13-1 win over the Yankees, his first game action of the spring. The 24-year-old switch-hitter has felt fine, physically, for weeks following surgery on Feb. 1, but he was held out of game action until Monday.

"After the surgery itself, I felt really good," Bell said. "It was just proving I felt good to the staff and checking all the boxes off when it comes to rehab and progressions. Now, I'm finally here and I feel great."

Bell dribbled a ground out about 20 feet down the first-base line in his first at-bat, but felt good hustling out of the box. He was called out on strikes in his second at-bat, then drew a walk in the fifth inning before being replaced by pinch-runner Joey Terdoslavich.

"Good feeling to get into the box for the first time in a while," Bell said. "Felt really good on defense. It's good to get those repetitions under my belt."

Bell began running full speed, rounding the bases and sliding last week. He has taken batting practice, hit in simulated games and worked extensively at first base with infield coach Joey Cora and special assistant Kevin Young.

Considering Bell's offseason preparation and the work he's been doing lately, it was no surprise to hear he does not feel far behind his teammates.

"I feel like I can catch up and get the at-bats I need to get," Bell said. "Whenever I can get some extra ABs, I'll always be open to that. It's not too big of a stretch for me to catch up."

Bell is not expected to play Tuesday against the Braves, and it's unclear how he will be used going forward. With exactly four weeks remaining before Opening Day, the Pirates likely won't push Bell too hard.

"I'm excited to get out there and, hopefully, play as much as I can," Bell said. "As long as I don't have any flare-ups or setbacks, I should be good to play."