When Josh Bell was called up last July, I thought he was going to be a permanent fixture on the O’s at the big league level. He hit the cover off the ball in the minors and was a formidable fielder as well, but for some reason couldn’t translate that play to the majors. Buck Showalter considered keeping Bell around as a backup corner infielder for the start of the 2011 season, but thought it would be better for Bell’s development to start him out at Triple-A Norfolk instead.

Bell had a horrible 53/2 K/BB ratio during his time in the majors last season, but played relatively well in the field. I don’t know if it was nerves or just not being able to adjust to the big league style of play, but it seems as if he just wasn’t quite ready to make the jump just yet, offensively at least. There isn’t as much pressure on Bell this season, though, as the O’s signed two veteran corner infielders in Derrek Lee and Mark Reynolds, which will give Bell more time to develop himself in the minors.

Despite struggling in the majors last season, Bell worked hard in the off-season to get himself in better shape, losing 20 pounds and looking visibly fit. This is one thing the O’s asked of him after last season and it’s good to see that he took that criticism and did something constructive with it. The 24-year-old third baseman has been doing two-a-day workouts in Arizona as well as hiking in the morning and working out at night. So he is certainly doing what he can to get in better shape and seize the next opportunity he gets to play in the majors. If he can improve his plate presence and continue to get better in the field, he may see himself back up in the big leagues before the season is through.

Submitted by Steve Giles