Josh Bell doesn’t ask for days off. It’s not in his nature.
However, Bell also did not argue with Clint Hurdle last week when the manager suggested that the first baseman was due for a rest. Thus, Bell is not in the lineup for Tuesday night’s game with the Braves that opens a three-game series at PNC Park.
It will mark the first time in 59 games this season that Bell will not start. When asked if it would feel weird to watch the game from the dugout, Bell didn’t have a definitive answer.
“I don’t know because it’s my first (off day) of the year,” Bell said prior to the game. “It’s something that will sink in once the game starts, for the most part. It’ll be good to refresh my legs, though.”
Bell was named the National League Player of the Month for May when he batted .390 with 12 doubles, 12 home runs and 31 RBIs in 29 games. He is leading the major leagues with 53 RBIs and is fourth in the NL in hitting (.332) and home runs (18).
However, Bell went 4 for 20 with two doubles, one walk and seven strikeouts over the weekend when the Pirates lost three of four games to the Brewers at PNC Park. He whiffed a combined six times in the last two games of the series.
The Pirates were off Monday and Hurdle gave Bell the option of either not starting Sunday against the Brewers or Tuesday night. Bell wanted to face the Brewers because they are a National League Central foe.
“With the travel and the level of play that goes into it now, it’s hard,” Hurdle said of playing in every game. “From a hitting standpoint, there are more different pitches, more velocity, more different spin than ever before. There’s the travel. There’s the work for that work put in before the game. There’s the actual playing of the games. Add it all together and it’s a lot.”
It doesn't matter whether Bell is hitting .332, .432 or .232, he needed a day off. For all the reasons Hurdle gave above, it's difficult for any player to play in every game anymore.