Josh Bell’s 0 for 5 on Saturday afternoon left the 28-year-old first baseman 2 for 19 (.105 AVG) in the five games he’s played since coming off the COVID-IL this past week.
Adding to the Washington Nationals’ slugger’s frustration is the fact that he was tearing things up this spring, before things went all pear-shaped once everyone left West Palm Beach, FL to return to D.C.
Bell had to spend two weeks in quarantine before making his 2021 debut, and he’s still trying to get his timing and rhythm at the plate back where they were.
“I truly believe — he missed some time, so I think it’s a timing issue a little bit. He hit a couple balls hard today. It’s just a matter of time,” Martinez said after Saturday’s win in Nationals Park.
“He can hit, there’s no doubt about it. Especially left-handed he can really hit. So, it’s a little bit of his timing, but he’ll get it.
“And I told him, I said, ‘Hey, you’re just playing a little bit of catch-up right now, but you’re going to be fine so don’t worry about it.’”
Martinez said that Bell’s plate discipline will help him get back to where he was coming out of Spring Training.
“The good thing for him is, he’s another guy where he understands the strike zone, he knows the strike zone, and he’ll start taking his walks and getting good pitches to hit.
“Right now, he’s getting some pitches to hit that he knows he should hit and he’s fouling them off. We’re seeing a lot of that, so it’s just a matter of time before he catches up.”
“I feel like everybody knows that Spring Training doesn’t count,” Bell said once he was reinstated from the IL this past Monday.
“I did have a good little thing going there so hopefully I can find that here pretty quickly.”
With a left-hander (Madison Bumgarner) on the mound this afternoon, Martinez decided to go with backup first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who’s 10 for 29 (.345/.367/.586), with one double and two home runs thus far in his 16th major league campaign.
HERE’S THE NATIONALS’ LINEUP FOR THE FINALE WITH THE D-BACKS:
NOTES: You’ll notice Paolo Espino listed as today’s starter. If you didn’t see it, the Nationals placed Stephen Strasburg on the 10-Day IL this morning with right shoulder inflammation. You can read all about that HERE and Davey Martinez is talking to reporters soon and will likely provide more information.