'Scuffling' Bell puts in extra work

Notebook

Rookie third baseman knows he needs to improve offense, defense, confidence

August 11, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

CLEVELAND —

Orioles manager Buck Showalter is known for allowing young players to work through their struggles, as long as they are going about their business the right way. That bodes well for Josh Bell, the rookie third baseman who is struggling with his bat, his glove and his confidence.

"I definitely have doubted myself a little bit," said Bell, 23, who is considered the Orioles' top position prospect. "I'm not where I want to be, but I've definitely made strides towards it."

Since being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on July 31 after the trade of third baseman Miguel Tejada, Bell is 6-for-33 (.182) with 12 strikeouts after going 3-for-4 with three singles Wednesday night against the Cleveland Indians. Overmatched at times offensively, Bell has also looked tentative defensively, making three errors and failing to make a couple of other plays that bigl eague third basemen make.

"There are some things that I know that I'm just not doing on the field," he said a night after committing a throwing error in the ninth inning on a ball he cut in front of shortstop Cesar Izturis to field.

"I've been kind of standoffish, I think. I've just got to be more aggressive and trust myself. I'm putting things together as I go along."

Bell was among several Orioles who took extra batting practice before Wednesday night's game, and he stayed on the field longer than the others to go through drills with hitting coach Terry Crowley. Bell, who is hitting .212 with three RBIs in 16 games, said they were primarily working on his getting to pitches on the inside part of the plate.

"I just think there have been pitches that I could have hit and I haven't done it," he said. "When you look at it on the video, I'm just not doing it how you're supposed to be doing it. I know that I can hit. I've always been known to worry more about my defense. It's a little frustrating that it's kind of my hitting that's not really doing so well. I'm just trying to get some early work in and get some video and see what I can do to change that. Â You want to be able to help the team win. I'm going to do my best and put in the work so I can help the team."

Bell said he is not pressing, but Showalter wouldn't mind if he were.

"I'm OK with that," Showalter said. "That's part of it: You got to have some 'want to' there. He does. Â I'd a lot rather have that amount of caring than thinking, 'que sera sera,' this is always going to be here. I want them to have a sense of urgency."

Asked this week how patient the Orioles will be with Bell, president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said: "We'll continue to let him play. He's scuffling a little bit. He just needs to relax and try to get in the rhythm of things."

Montanez, Johnson to Bowie

Two of the three Orioles on the 15-day disabled list will accelerate their rehabilitation programs at Double-A Bowie this week.

Outfielder Lou Montanez (left oblique strain) was scheduled to be in the Baysox's lineup Wednesday night, while reliever Jim Johnson (right elbow inflammation) is expected to pitch tonight.

Both have been playing with the Gulf Coast League Orioles.

Montanez, who has been on the disabled list since June 26, went 3-for-15 (.200) with an RBI in four games in the GCL. Johnson, who was placed on the major league DL effective May 28, pitched in four games in Florida, allowing three earned runs in four innings. All the runs came in the first of his four outings. He also surrendered five hits and a walk while striking out five.

"I know from talking to people what everyone thinks of [Johnson], which is very highly," Showalter said. "But you want to make sure you don't get too fast with that. Obviously, you would like to get him back here, but you want to make sure you aren't jeopardizing next year for him."

The other Oriole on the DL, reliever David Hernandez (sprained left ankle), has reported to the team's spring training complex in Sarasota, Fla., but he has yet to be scheduled to pitch in any GCL games.

Staying with Roberts

Second baseman Brian Roberts, who missed 3 1/2 months with a herniated disk in his back, started his ninth straight game Wednesday.

The club is monitoring him closely, but Showalter said the leadoff man is in a "good place physically right now."

"We're getting a good medical report on him," Showalter said. "He wants to finish strong and get that mental part with where he is physically. If there's something that throws a flag up, we will address it and take care of it. It's part of the rigors. You can see that everything he does right now, he's not thinking about it anymore."

Erbe has torn labrum

Norfolk pitching prospect Brandon Erbe will have surgery Friday to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. The surgery will be performed by Los Angeles Angels team doctor Dr. Lewis Yocum.

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