David Bell says he's healthy enough to be playing in Grapefruit League games and he should have that chance before too long. He looked healthy in a minor league game on Thursday, sliding hard into home and making a backhand play on a ball hit to third. Even so, with a chronically bad back, David Bell is playing on borrowed time. At least this season, the Phillies have Abraham Nunez to serve as a backup who could step in to play everyday if need be. That gives them some needed insurance, especially since Nunez played the same role with the St. Louis Cardinals last season and wound up playing well in the absence of Scott Rolen.
Don't be surprised if Bell winds up in a mid-season deal to Kansas City. His father, Buddy Bell, is the manager of the Royals and it would give the two a chance to be a part of the same organization as the younger Bell moves toward the end of his playing career. The deal would become more likely if the Phillies don't view Bell as an important part of their late season plans, but certainly won't happen just to set up a nice family reunion. It could very well make sense though for both sides.
Homeruns: Bell has never been a big homerun hitter and he's certainly not going to start now. He'll chip in with a longball here and there, but it's not part of his general arsenal. He had a career-high 21 homeruns while with Seattle in 1999 and Citizens Bank Park was gracious to him and helped him to hit 18 in 2004, but that number fell to just 10 last season.
RBI: Again, Bell has never been a big RBI guy and isn't going to start now. He'll be hitting low in the order and the Phillies simply look to him to keep an inning alive or turn the lineup over.
AVG / OBP: In 2004, Bell had somewhat of a second wind. He hit .291, the highest of his career. He also posted a .363 on-base percentage, also the highest of his major league career. Both of those numbers tumbled last season and aren't likely to return to those levels again. Because of his inability to hit right-handed pitching last season and the arrival of Nunez, Bell figures to see less at bats this season, even if he is healthy. Our projection for his average in 2006 is based heavily on him facing primarily left-handed pitching.
Projections for 2006