Tim Bogar, who filled in for Davey Martinez while the Washington Nationals’ skipper served a one-game suspension last night for the hit-by-pitch on Freddie Freeman by Sean Nolin while the team was in Atlanta, was not at all surprised to see Josh Bell come up and hit a 429-foot home run to center in his return to PNC Park.
“He’s a professional, that’s his job,” Bogar said of Bell coming up big in the park he called home for five seasons before the Pittsburgh Pirates, who drafted him in the first round in 2011, traded him to the Nationals this past winter.
“It doesn’t matter where he’s at or what he’s doing or how he’s playing, he’s going to go out there and give us the best he can do,” the Nats’ bench coach continued.
“If you followed him the last two months, it’s just quality at bat after quality at bat after quality at bat, and he steps into this place here with a lot of emotion and a lot of thoughts on his mind and he can just bring it back to center and do what he has to do.
“Take pitches and when you get one hit it out and that’s exactly what he did tonight.”
Bell walked in his first two plate appearances, but he got hold of an 0-1 fastball from Pirates’ lefty Sam Howard and crushed it the third time up.
“It was cool,” Bell said of hitting his 37th career home run in PNC Park.
“Especially after the first couple at bats, you know, I wanted to be able to get my swing off and they walked me the first two, so first strike that I was able to see right-handed...”
Bell’s 26th home run of the season was his ninth of the year from the right side of the plate, and he said it was the best hit from the right side.
“Specifically right-handed I think that was the best ball that I’ve hit,” Bell said, “... especially here, so kudos to [Nats’ hitting coach] Kevin Long for all the work that we’ve been putting in in the cage and it’s nice to finally see that right-handed.”
Overall, Bell said, he’s feeling good at the plate now, and after last night’s blast, he won’t be changing much up.
“I’m definitely not going to change the work day too much,” he said.
“I’m going to get in, get my tee routine, and continue to get that conversation going with Kevin and hopefully more good is to come.”