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Like so many other fan favorites before him, Josh Bell made his first homecoming at PNC Park.
Bell was back in Pittsburgh on Friday for the first time since the Pirates traded the first baseman hitting the counter at the Washington Nationals for right-handed Wil Crowe and a prospect on Christmas Eve. The Pirates and Nationals opened a series of three games.
The Pirates had an off-season cleanup of their roster and Bell was only part of it. Joe Musgrove was sold to the San Diego Padres, Jameson Taillon to the New York Yankees, and Trevor Williams was released.
While the pirates were in talks about a long-term contract extension with Bell’s agent Scott Boras, the two sides never came close to a deal. Bell said he never thought too much about the possibility of being a pirate in the long term.
« I feel like I’m playing the game, it’s just like, ‘Next field, where am I right now? » « said Bell. “There were some conversations that I was able to prolong at some point, but they never really brought anything. I think it’s part of it, part of the game. »
The shipping out of town, however, didn’t dampen Bell’s enthusiasm to return to PNC Park.
« Oh, being on this side of the stadium is definitely different, » Bell said when speaking to reporters in front of the visitors’ dugout before the game.
« When I went through the tunnel (from the clubhouse to the pitch), I had the same feeling as I did 10 years ago when I signed here. »
The Pirates selected Bell in the second round of the 2011 amateur draft and gave him a $ 5 million bonus to award a scholarship to Texas. He made his major league debut in 2016, hitting .261 with 86 home runs in five seasons.
« He did a good job and I enjoyed the year I had the privilege to spend with Josh, » said Pirates manager Derek Shelton. “I wish Josh all the best for the next three games. But no, he’s a really good boy. I enjoyed being around him. »
The Pirates have set a franchise record for players who were used in a season with 58 players. However, they may not add to a rather shameful brand.
General Manager Ben Cherington would not rule out the possibility of calling up minor league players for the last three weeks of the season who have not yet been in pirate uniform. However, he doesn’t seem to have much of an urgency to audition other new players either.
« We have nothing on the horizon what we are planning, » Cherington said on Friday during a conference call with reporters. “I would expect that the way pitching works, there will inevitably be more up and down as we distribute the innings. Nothing in sight, but also not to be ruled out.
“We still have a few games to go. Lets see what happens. The two main differences (this year) are that the squad (limit) is 28, not 40, and we have games in Triple-A for the rest of the month as well. Whether someone is in Triple-A or not in the big leagues, they still benefit from playing baseball. So the approach to September has only changed a little. »
Before last season, teams could have up to 40 players on their roster from September 1st. Before that year, the minor league season traditionally ended on Labor Day.
One player who might want to take a look before the end of the season is infielder / outfielder Tucupita Marcano, the centerpiece of the three-perspective package the Pirates received from the San Diego Padres at Adam Frazier dealers in July.
Marcano made his major league debut with the Padres earlier this season, playing 25 games for them. However, he has only hit .221 with a home run in 35 games for Triple-A Indianapolis.
Yoshi Tsutsugo made a huge impression in his first 22 games with the Pirates since being signed as a free agent after his release by the Los Angeles Dodgers last month.
The infielder / outfielder has a .286 batting average with seven home runs in 63 record appearances and a 1,117 OPS.
Tsutsugo is entitled to a free agency at the end of the season. Though he may be a bit old for a rebuild team at 29, he seems to be a good fit with the pirates.
« We haven’t talked about anything this year, » said Cherington. “I would expect we to want to wait until after the year to think about having a conversation about it.
“Of course he made a great impression. We really enjoyed getting to know him. Swing the club really well. It was fun. We’ll see where that leads us after the season. »
The middle game in the series is at 6:35 pm. On Saturday, Crowe (3-7, 5.94) will meet his old team. Washington will start the highly acclaimed rookie Josiah Gray (0-2, 5.65).
Crowe is 1-5 of 11 starts at PNC Park this season. His only home win came on July 30th against the Philadelphia Phillies.
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