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Josh Bell playing in Indianapolis' outfield

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Bell is in right field in Indianapolis' lineup tonight. It will be his first appearance in the outfield, in the minors or majors, since 2014.

Neal Huntington mentioned this possibility yesterday, and indicated that the Pirates still essentially see Bell as a first baseman. Which is, I guess, good.

I can understand why the Bucs want to create flexibility for themselves here. But I wonder whether having Bell play the outfield might be needlessly fussy. Unless the Pirates have some indication that Gregory Polanco's injury is serious (and if they did, it would have been nice if they'd placed him on the DL so Francisco Liriano didn't have to pinch-hit yesterday), or unless they feel Bell's first-base defense is unplayable right now, the best way to find big-league playing time for Bell is to make him the starting first baseman, not to have him mess around playing several positions.

If Bell's defense is a problem, having him play multiple positions requiring dramatically different skill sets seems counterproductive. Having him mess around with both first base and outfield now reminds me of their treatment of Craig Wilson back in the day. Wilson was a bad defender, but he probably could have been okay at first base or right field if the Pirates had simply picked a position for him rather than having him bounce back and forth between those two positions and catcher.

Besides, it isn't as if the Pirates have a world-beater at first base. Not much has changed since I wrote this three weeks ago. Bell is probably a better player than John Jaso right now, and he's clearly more important to their future. The Pirates should, in my opinion, just make him the big-league first baseman as soon as they can clear space for him.