INDIANAPOLIS — He’s not the first and probably won’t be the last.
Josh Bell, by his standards, has struggled since returning to Indianapolis after his brief promotion to the Pirates.
The same has happened to others, as well. Alen Hanson tried to hit for too much power after his brief call-up in mid-May, while Wilfredo Boscan pretty much fell apart when he returned from Pittsburgh for the third and final time.
Bell now falls into that group who have struggled after being sent back down after making their major league debut. Now, the struggles of Bell come with one big caveat: he’s still putting up numbers about half of the Indianapolis lineup wishes they had. But by his standards set earlier this season his production has slipped.
In 18 games since returning to Triple-A, Bell has a slash line of .242/.356/.274, compared to .324/.407/.535 prior to his promotion. He has no home runs since returning, compared to 13 home runs in 83 games prior to his promotion.
“I think he’s lost his patience a little bit at the plate,” Treanor said. “He’s swinging at pitches now that he really wasn’t before.”
Treanor said Bell has slid somewhat into “the trap” that gets many young players. Especially with what Bell did in Pittsburgh.
His first at-bat resulted in hit against Chicago’s Jake Arrieta. His second at-bat was a pinch-hit grand slam that led to a standing ovation from Pirates fans. And then he walked in his other two at-bats and Treanor labeled those “very, very good at-bats.”
“That was based on his patience and pitch selection, and knowing what he’s looking for,” Treanor said. “So, here, and this is the tough thing — you try to do even better here than what you did before. And it gets you out of who you are, gets you out of your rhythm at the plate, gets you out of your patience at the plate. He’s just not as patient as he was before.”
Bell didn’t disagree with Treanor’s assessment of his recent play.
“I feel like I’m being a little over-aggressive at times, swinging at balls out of my zone and trying to do a little bit more than I should in certain situations,” Bell said.
In many ways, a letdown should be assumed. Especially after the surreal beginning Bell had to his major league career. He went from getting a standing ovation in PNC Park to playing in front of no more than 1,967 people during a three-game series at Gwinnett.
Indianapolis does average a minor-league best 9,008 people per game and are in a division race trying to catch Columbus. But still, it’s not the same atmosphere as in the major leagues.
“Same electricity, just a little bit more [in the majors] — but maybe squared,” Bell said.
Nobody is concerned about Bell in the long-term and he’s already showing some signs of breaking out, getting a hit in four consecutive games. Once he regains his patience at the plate and the approach he used before his promotion, Bell will likely return to the form that made him a Triple Crown threat in the International League, and a guy who could push John Jaso out of the starting first base job in Pittsburgh at some point this year.