Notebook: For Bell, a time to listen and learn

Roberts thinks he can take live batting practice 'within a week'

February 24, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec | jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

SARASOTA, Fla. — — When asked what he hopes to accomplish in his first big league spring training, Orioles top position prospect Josh Bell grinned and offered a quick answer.

"Knowledge," Bell said. "I'm just shutting my mouth and listening, seeing what's going on and what I need to do."

Bell, a third baseman who was acquired in July from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the George Sherrill trade, is expected to start and spend most - if not all - of the season at Triple-A Norfolk. However, team officials are eager to get an extended look at Bell, the team's third baseman of the future. He already has made an impression on manager Dave Trembley.

He's a "big man, but he must have worked hard because he came in lean," Trembley said of the 23-year-old who is 6 feet 3, 235 pounds. "He looks in good shape. He's got power from both sides of the plate and an easy swing."

Bell hit .289 with nine homers and 24 RBIs in 33 games at Double-A Bowie after the trade. A switch-hitter, Bell is focused on improving as a right-handed hitter and learning as much as he can from coaches and veteran players.

"Probably the most important thing for me is making sure I'm getting better on both sides," he said. "I fell off a little bit last year. I just never got comfortable. In the offseason, I felt good. I'm just anxious to see where it takes me."

Roberts not far behind
Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, who revealed Monday that doctors diagnosed a small herniated disk in his back about a month ago, said he thinks he'll be able to take live batting practice "within a week."

Roberts took ground balls and participated in most of the first full-squad workout. But instead of taking live batting practice, he hit off a tee and did some soft toss in the indoor batting cages.

"I'm not very far behind" said Roberts, who also lifted weights and did conditioning. "We're just gradually working back into it."

Tillman, Bergesen better
With his back feeling much better, starting pitcher Chris Tillman played catch Tuesday and is expected to throw a bullpen session today. Tillman's side session was delayed a couple of days because of back spasms.

"It's not all the way gone yet, but I'm very relieved," Tillman said. "We'll just have to see how it feels off the mound. I'm not going to go 100 percent, obviously. There's no rush right now."

Brad Bergesen (strained right shoulder) had another productive flat-ground session and could throw off the mound by the end of the week.

Watson visits camp
Bob Watson, Major League Baseball's vice president of rules and on-field operations, was in camp Tuesday along with umpiring supervisor Larry Young as part of an MLB tour of major league training camps to update teams about on-field issues and rules interpretations.

Watson, who is baseball's czar of discipline, said before that meeting that the point of the tour is to give players and coaches a better understanding of how certain situations will be handled this year.

Most notably, MLB is going to get tougher on pitchers who throw intentionally near the heads of hitters.

"The fines are going to be higher for throwing at or near the head," he said, "and for saying to you guys [the media] that he was 'sending a message.' "

Baltimore Sun columnist Peter Schmuck contributed to this article.

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