Josh Bell Back In The Burgh With A Bang

Josh Bell Back In The Burgh With A Bang

After playing 552 games as a member of the Pirates, Josh Bell made his return to the Burgh over the weekend and highlighted it with a moonshot home run.

Josh Bell was back in the Steel City where his Major League career began back in 2016 and Bucco Nation made sure to show him plenty of love.

They greeted the Nationals first baseman with a standing ovation before his first PNC Park at bat as a member of the road team.

Bell hit 86 home runs and drove in 309 runs during his five years with the Pirates, and in the sixth inning of Friday night’s game he proved his comfort in the Pittsburgh batters box by hitting a solo home run to extend Washington’s lead to 3-1.

However that lead would not stand up for long: Pirates MLBbro Anthony Alford answered Bell’s bomb with a homer of his own to cut the deficit to one, then later on in the game, their young phenom Ke’Bryan Hayes sent folks home happy with the first walk off hit of his career.

During the weekend series Bell was 3-for-9 with five walks, two runs and that home run as his Nationals could only salvage one win out of the three games.

Bell finished third in Rookie of the Year voting in 2017 and was named as an All-Star for the Pirates in 2019.  That year he hit .277 with career highs in home runs, average, OPS, slugging percentage, hits, doubles and runs.

That year was also Bell’s second time homering 25 or more times for the Pirates, and with him already passing that mark this season, he became just the second player in Major League history to hit 25 home runs for the Nationals/ Montreal Expos and the Pirates joining former first baseman Adam LaRoche.

Bell is one of the few pieces that stayed in Washington after their fire sale during the trade deadline.  His year started off slow as he only hit .113 for the month of April and has been fighting to rise the average ever since.

“I feel good as of late,” said Bell to reporters before Friday night’s game.  “I had a really rough start that I had to work my way out of.  Thank God it wasn’t a 60-game season again.  I kind of turned things around.”

He signed a one-year deal with the Nationals this offseason and is now batting .253 with 26 home runs, a .813 OPS and 81 RBI.

He has definitely earned himself  a payday after this season whether he gets it in D.C. or with a new franchise.

Bell is now chasing the 30-homer mark during this final month of the season.  Showing those numbers during contract negotiations can only help his cause.

This week he and his Nationals will take on the “Bahamian Blur” Jazz Chisholm Jr. and the Miami Marlins.

Ke’Bryan Hayes Is The Future Of The Pittsburgh Pirates Franchise

Ke’Bryan Hayes Is The Future Of The Pittsburgh Pirates Franchise

Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Ke’Bryan Hayes is in his first full season. After putting up impressive numbers during the 2020 season, Hayes was determined to come back in 2021 ready to make an impact.

During the 2020 season he appeared in 24 games and hit .376 with five home runs and 11 RBI. His bat was lit and the energy he infused into the Pirates faithful was reminiscent of when Andrew McCutchen helped take Pittsburgh from the losingest franchise in North American sports to World Series contenders. 

Hayes, the son of former MLB player and World Series champion Charlie Hayes, put the baseball world on notice and his glove garnered praise similar to that given to such webmasters as Manny Machado, Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt.

Those are some numbers that will catch people’s attention and it certainly caught the Pirates’ attention. In fact, Hayes is the only reason most people outside of the state of Pennsylvania even watch Pirates games. 

 

Don’t Even Watch Pirates Games For The Next 10 Days…Ke’Bryan Hayes Is Hurt

 

This season, our MLBbro has seen a lot more action and he has put together solid numbers. The Texas native dealt with injuries at the beginning of the season and now he’s trying to finish on a strong note. He’s batting .248 with five home runs and 27 RBI through 69 games.

 

 

Hayes recently went on a six-game hitting streak this month. During that span he recorded eight hits and had a .363 batting average. Such offensive explosiveness is the reason why the Pirates selected him in the first round of the 2015 MLB draft. They saw the potential in him six years ago and now it’s all starting to show.

When you look at the future of the Pirates, you have to envision Hayes as a leader of the pack because he has the physical tools and natural leadership qualities. And he’s just scratching the surface of his peak as a player. 

Now he has struggled a little bit this season due to a wrist injury and some other issues, but he’s also shown strong signs of being a franchise player. The Pirates are looking to find their identity and having a young, exciting player like Hayes on the team certainly helps.

 

 

When the team traded it’s top infielder Adam Frazier, Hayes was not a happy camper because Hayes always received some positive words from his former teammate.

“He came to where I was sitting at on the plane and talked, and he just told me to keep working hard, keep going, keep your head level and keep fighting every day, because I’ve been struggling a little bit,” Hayes told the Post-Gazette. “He was talking to me about that, he was telling me just be aggressive at the plate and have positive thoughts and keep working.”

“Losing Frazier kind of sucks,” Hayes added. “Him and [center fielder Bryan Reynolds], they’ve been our best hitters this year. You’ve just got to look at the bigger picture with what they’re trying to do in the next few years, once we’ve gotten the guys down in the lower levels up and as guys like me — this is my first full year — being able to get some experience. That way whenever I’m in a position like Fraz to help kind of lead the team for the younger guys that are coming in, like how I came in last year.”

Hayes is 24-years-old and he already believes that the Pirates will be in a good position down the line. 

“I feel like we’re going to get there, because we have a ton of talent, the trades that we’ve had already, bringing in some pretty good young prospects,” he said. “So I think it’s just taking it day by day and just building that chemistry with everyone to get to that end goal.”

When McCutchen first came to Pittsburgh, the francise was a bottom feeder. Instead of leaving, he stayed the course, signed a six-year, $51 million extension, won an MVP and before the franchise dumped him at age 30 (following a 28-homer season), he led them back to the playoffs for the first time since Barry Bonds roamed the outfield.

 

“It used to be that people didn’t want to get traded to the Pirates and people didn’t want to come here unless they were trying to redeem their careers,” McCutchen told S.I.com back in 2013. “Now we’ve got guys who come here and want to be here. They see what we have and they want to be a part of it.”

Hayes has the same optimism oozing from his persona. Hayes is becoming the face of the Pirates and the key the franchise;s future. 

 

Josh Bell’s Bat Has Transformed From Walking Dead Into Live Wire

Josh Bell’s Bat Has Transformed From Walking Dead Into Live Wire

The 2021 season did not kick off as Josh Bell envisioned.

The power-swinging lefty joined the Washington Nationals during the offseason and was ready to make an immediate impact in his first year in the nation’s capital. COVID protocol delayed his arrival and disrupted his MLBbro flow, so he’s just now gaining some consistency at the plate. 

It’s safe to say that Bell has shown significant improvement in the month of June after struggling at the start of the season.

He recently tied his longest hitting streak of the season (six games), which ended on June 28th.

During that hitting streak he went 7-for-23 with eight RBI and two home runs. This is the player that the Nationals have been waiting to see and a big reason why they sought out to acquire him. It’s no question that Bell knows how to hit. There is a lot of power in that 6-foot-4 255 pound frame of his. 

 

 

The 28-year-old has been seeing the ball pretty well this month. Earlier this month, Bell had his first six-game hitting streak. He had a total of seven hits during the streak. 

Recently, Bell had a clutch performance for the Nationals as he hit a grand slam against the Philadelphia Phillies on June 23rd. 

 

 

That was the game he needed.

Nationals manager, Davey Martinez was filled with emotions after witnessing that performance from Bell.

“Big home run by J. Bell. That was huge. Two strikes, being able to stay on the ball, hit it the other way, that was big,” Martinez told Yahoo Sports. “To me, that was the moment right there I told myself, ‘That made him a National right there.’ That really did make him a National. Hopefully, he keeps it going.”

“You watch this guy every day work the way he works, how passionate he is about our club and the team,” Martinez said. “It was awesome to see him come through like that.”

As you can see, Martinez is high on Bell and has a lot of confidence in him, especially at the plate.  Bell believes that moment was a turning point. 

“I’ve put in a lot of work with [hitting coach Kevin] Long, it seems like things are starting to turn around for me,” Bell said. “Hopefully, that’s one of quite a few moments I have with the Nationals.”

Our MLBbro is hitting .226 with 11 home runs and 34 RBI through 61 games. Don’t let that batting average fool you, Bell can hit bombs in bunches and he makes his hits count. 

Despite struggling out the gate, he’s making the necessary adjustments. If Bell can perform like he did in 2019 with the Pirates, where he hit 37 home runs, then he will be a problem for sure in the National League.

Keep an eye out for this brother throughout the season. He’s really just heating up for his new squad. 

 

Brian Goodwin Knows A Thing Or Two About First Impressions

Brian Goodwin Knows A Thing Or Two About First Impressions

When it comes to making a good first impression, Chicago White Sox outfielder Brian Goodwin does that well. 

The 30-year-old gave White Sox fans a treat in his debut on June 12. The White Sox bats came alive that day against the Detroit Tigers in a 15-2 win and Goodwin, a six-year veteran, made sure to join in on the fun.

He went 2-for-5 at the plate, hitting his first home run of the season and had five RBI. Goodwin became the 38th White Sox player to hit a home run in their debut.

 

 

“It felt good, first game, give the fans and teammates something to see,” Goodwin told the Chicago Sun-Times after his performance. 

That is the production Goodwin needed to have the opportunity to make an impact for a team who has a chance to play for a World Series title this season. This surging White Sox team will benefit from having a player like Goodwin, who can be productive at the plate and in the field. 

The start of the 2021 season has been a rollercoaster for Goodwin. He signed a minor league contract in February with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Our MLBbro received an invite to spring training in hopes of making the Opening Day roster. The talent-strapped Pirates decided to release Goodwin on May 3rd. At that time the veteran outfielder wondered when he would next play baseball.

But, that didn’t last too long. A day later,  he signed a minor-league contract with the White Sox and now he’s back in the majors.

“I wasn’t too happy about it, but it helped me keep that chip on my shoulder,” Goodwin said. “Signed here in May, and I’m still [ticked] off. I’m going to take it out on everybody else with how I play.”

 

 

After spending time in Triple-A Charlotte, Goodwin got the call up after Nick Madrigal went on the 60-day Injured List.

Before joining the White Sox, Goodwin played with four other MLB teams. His last stint in the league was in 2020 with the LA Angels and Cincinnati Reds. During the COVID shortened season he appeared in 30 games with the Angels and batted .242 with 17 RBI. The Angels traded him to the Reds and he finished the season playing in 20 games and batted .163.

Goodwin started his career with the Washington Nationals, who drafted him in 2011 out of the University of North Carolina.

He made his debut with the Nationals in 2016, appearing in 22 games and finished with an impressive .286 batting average. The next season, Goodwin appeared in 74 games, finishing with a .251 average. This brother quickly made an impact in his first few years. 

In 2018 he spent the first half of the season with the Nationals and was then traded to the Kansas City Royals. The Royals released Goodwin in March of 2019 and he was picked up by the Angels, where he had a career season. 

 

 

So as you can see, Goodwin has bounced around during his time in the Majors. He has a career .250 batting average and he’ll continue to look to make an impact while he’s on the field.

 

 

It all came full circle for Goodwin because the first time he was drafted was out of high school in 2009 and can you guess what team drafted him? The White Sox.

Now he’s a member of the team on the South Side that could make a deep run in the postseason.

Ke’Bryan Hayes Expected To Rejoin Pirates Thursday Barring Setback

Ke’Bryan Hayes Expected To Rejoin Pirates Thursday Barring Setback

Finally, Ke’Bryan Hayes will be back in the saddle in Pittsburgh.

The third-base sensation could be back in the lineup for the Pirates as early as Thursday, according to Pirates’ general manager Ben Cherington. He announced the injury update on his radio show.

Barring a setback, Cherington said that he expects Hayes to make his long-awaited return to the big leagues as early as Thursday when he is officially eligible to come off of the 60-day injury list.

 

 

The Bucs’ top prospect began his rehab assignment for Triple-A Indianapolis this past Saturday against St. Paul, marking his first appearance since his initial wrist injury occurred.

 

In six games, Hayes batted.300 with six hits, six runs, three RBIs, two doubles, and two walks. He still has a knack for the ball on the defensive side as well.

 

 

The Pirates’ organization has been monitoring his progress, and they’ve liked what they have seen thus far, hence the early return. 

Cherington told MLB.com, “Once we got as far out from the injury as we have, and it’s going to be two months or whatever, we just felt like we really needed to have almost a spring training progression.”

He added, “The last thing we wanted to do was sort of rush him back, and then something else happens because his body was just not ready.”

Cole Tucker, a close friend and teammate, said he is excited for his buddy to be back alongside himself as he spoke on the importance of his close friends’ return. 

“I know the first two months of this season haven’t gone how he or anyone pictured, but he’s in a good spot, and he’s in a good headspace,” Tucker told MLB.com.

 

 

The hesitancy about the 24-year-old’s progress is valid as the Pirates have seen this since the initial wrist injury took place on April 4. Before the long-term IL designation, Pittsburgh placed KB on the 10-day injury list.

Hayes showed signs of recovery before suffering a setback after a cumbersome swing against celebrity competition in a centralized location in Detroit. After the incident, Hayes faced live at-bats with teammates before suffering more malaise in his wrist and hand.

 

 

Before starting the season, Hayes led the charge as the preseason favorite for the National League Rookie of the Year Award due to his hot finish of the pandemic-shortened season. 

In 24 games, he batted .376 with 14 extra-base hits, 11 runs batted in, and five home runs. He also had a .442 on-base percentage, and a .682 slugging percentage with a 1.124 on-base plus slugging percentage.

 

 

Losers of seven of their last 10 games, the Bucs first two months of the season has them sputtering in the National League Central Division with a 20-32 record. So, the return of the franchise player could bring a much-needed spark at the plate and the field.

Baseball fans and enthusiasts are hoping a setback doesn’t occur for Hayes as the league and the team needs star players to move the game forward. 

Look for Hayes to make his return Thursday as the Pirates host Jazz Chisholm and his Miami Marlins at PNC Park at 7:05 P.M. ET.