Josh Bell put up a .156/.219/.333 line with 5 doubles, 4 residence runs, seven walks, and 30 Ks in his first 26 video games and 105 plate appearances with Washington’s Nationals final season, following a Christmas Eve 2020 cope with the Pittsburgh Pirates which introduced the 29-year-old slugger to D.C.
However the 6’4’’, 255-pound, switch-hitter turned issues round after the tough begin, (which did comply with a stretch on the COVID-IL for Bell and others on the staff), and from mid-Might by way of the top of the yr, the six-year veteran posted a .286/.376/.510 line, 19 doubles, 23 residence runs, 58 walks, and 71 Ks in 118 video games and 463 PAs.
“The numbers had been what I anticipated,” Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo stated of Bell’s totals when he spoke with reporters over the ultimate weekend of the season again in early October 2021.
“He’s been terrific for us all season, he had a terrific Spring Coaching, then bought sidetracked with COVID and I feel he — that he turned the naysayers early within the season into believers, and as a man that at 28, 29 years outdated, and a profession .800 OPS, and that was the participant we traded for and that’s the participant we bought. Past that his affect within the clubhouse is irreplaceable. He’s been terrific within the clubhouse, and he’s been a mentor for the younger gamers, and he’s a shining instance of what a giant leaguer needs to be.”
Bell, who’s underneath staff management by way of the top of this season, confirmed up for his second yr with the Nationals and impressed his supervisor once more early this spring.
“He seems in great form,” Davey Martinez advised reporters final week, when requested about his choices at first base now that Ryan Zimmerman is retired, and the way typically he thinks he’ll have Bell on the market this season, with the DH spot an possibility as properly.
“If he might play 150-something video games, that’s superior, however yeah, man, if our DH wants a time without work, we are able to presumably put him as DH.”
Martinez additionally talked in the course of the first week of Spring Coaching concerning the affect the signing of veteran designated hitter Nelson Cruz might have on the lineup and on the hitters anticipated to hit in the midst of the order across the Nats’ new bat, specifically Bell and Juan Soto.
“You discuss Soto, you discuss Cruz, for me, the man to me who [it] is admittedly going to profit and assist too, is Josh Bell,” the supervisor stated.
“I imply, abruptly you place Josh Bell with these two guys, I feel he’s going to get higher. I actually [do]. Like I stated, he got here to this Spring Coaching in such fine condition and prepared, and he seems nice.
“So having these three guys in the midst of our lineup, it’s going to be enjoyable to look at.”
Hitting in entrance of or behind Cruz within the lineup, and simply having him on the staff, actually, the skipper instructed, shall be helpful for a hitter like Bell, who will get a first-hand have a look at how the 41-year-old, 17-year veteran handles issues every day.
“I feel the truth that if Josh hits behind Nellie, he will get to understand him, watch him work, his routine. That helps,” Martinez defined.
“A man up there watching pitches, taking pitches, I feel it’s going to assist Josh so much, plus the communication earlier than the video games. Nellie … he research pitchers, he’s a scholar of the sport, he is aware of numerous various things, so it’s going to be attention-grabbing to look at these guys collaborate and discuss earlier than each collection and every recreation, so it is going to be enjoyable.”
“After all, I feel he’s going to assist Juan out tremendously,” Martinez added.
“However I feel he’s going to assist out all people. He stretches our lineup out actually, very well, so like I stated, I’m wanting ahead to these guys bonding with him, and him simply being him. I’ve identified him for a lot of, a few years, he’s an incredible teammate, unbelievable teammate, and he cares about competing and profitable.”
Martinez additionally talked final week about what he discovered about Bell throughout their first season collectively in 2021, when the primary baseman’s persistence after the gradual begin made a robust impression on his supervisor.
“He was — the one factor about Josh, he places the time in and the trouble and works onerous. And what occurred to not simply him however all people to start with of the yr [COVID], slowed all people down … and he was in that cage on daily basis, making an attempt to get again in form, making an attempt to get his timing again.
“He’s bought a really distinctive swing and it’s all based mostly on timing. This yr I feel he actually labored on slowing every thing down and holding every thing easy, and proper now, I’m watching him take batting observe, and he’s hitting the ball properly.
“He understands now that there’s not only one month of the season, the season is 9 months for us, so I at all times inform him, I stated, ‘Hey, don’t fear about your numbers now.’
“I stated, ‘On the finish of the yr your numbers are going to be what they — usually what they’re, give or take ten factors in the event you’re a little bit bit fortunate or no matter, however he took that to coronary heart final yr, as a result of firstly he felt like he allow us to down. And I stated, you’re not letting us down. Imagine me, I do know what you undergo, I do know the struggles, however you’ve simply bought to indicate up on daily basis, each at-bat, and do the most effective you possibly can.”
Did Bell’s work on the sphere, within the clubhouse, and out locally persuade the membership he’s a possible extension candidate? He’s arbitration-eligible once more this yr, after he and the staff prevented arbitration final winter, agreeing on a 1-year/$6.35M deal in January 2021.
He’s projected get a elevate to round $10M this season. So, any chance?
“We haven’t mentioned it but,” Rizzo advised reporters when requested a couple of potential extension on Day 1 of Spring Coaching.
“He’s an arbitration candidate for us, so we wouldn’t do something earlier than we get a deal finished in arbitration in any case.”