Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Marlins 3, Pirates 2 Victory Bell Is Silenced in Sweep

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Marlins 3, Pirates 2 Victory Bell Is Silenced in Sweep

Article excerpt

In a way, the Pirates' hand was forced. Jung Ho Kang's shoulder injury means David Freese is their third baseman. John Jaso is taking walks but not hitting. So while acknowledging the defensive deficiency of first baseman Josh Bell, whom the Pirates promoted Saturday, general manager Neal Huntington undoubtedly made fans happy when he said: "We brought Josh up to play a decent amount."

Bell started his first major league game Sunday in a 3-2 loss to the Miami Marlins at PNC Park. The loss concluded a three-game sweep and dropped the Pirates 1 games behind Miami in the National League wild-card standings, three games back of the St. Louis Cardinals for the second spot. The Pirates scored three runs in the final 20 innings of the series.

"Obviously the results for the weekend for us weren't what we were looking for, but we're still in it," Sunday starter Ryan Vogelsong said."It's not like this one knocked us out of contention or something like that. We've still got a month and a week left of baseball, and that's a lot of baseball to play."

Manager Clint Hurdle spoke bluntly about Bell's defense before the game. "Jaso is a better defensive first baseman than Josh is right now," he said. "It's just a matter of fact."

But Jaso had a .169 average and .254 slugging percentage since the All-Star break, and the need to play Freese at third removes an option at first base against left-handers.

Bell, a 24-year-old switch-hitter and one of the top prospects in the minor league system, hit .295 with a .382 on-base percentage and 14 home runs this season for Class AAA Indianapolis.

"It was as much the interest in the bat, the opportunity for the bat," Huntington said. "The defensive work is going to continue to be a work in progress."

The game speed in the major leagues will accelerate that work. After Bell pinch-hit Saturday night and remained in the game on defense, the first batter the Pirates faced was Marlins speedster Dee Gordon. Gordon bunted toward Bell's side of the field, but Jeff Locke fielded the ball and made the out.

"There's not Dee Gordon in [Class AAA]," Huntington said. "There might be a fast baserunner, but there's not Dee Gordon in [Class AAA]. …

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