Last night’s game can be slipped into the “forgettable” file. Not much to review after this one.
David Price dominated and the Rays celebrated. Brad Bergesen wasn’t sharp, Brian Roberts wasn’t feeling well and Julio Lugo wasn’t on the bench at the end after being ejected.
Josh Bell made a rare start, his first since Sept. 20, and I’m sure he appreciated that manager Buck Showalter waited until Price was on the mound. What could have possibly gone wrong?
Bell went 0-for-3, grounding out twice and striking out. He swung through a high heater to end his second at-bat, a ball that almost cleared his head, and he stranded Matt Wieters at third base to end the seventh after working the count full.
Bell was making his second start since September 14. He’s 3-for-20 with no RBIs in his last 10 games. He’s hit one home run since connecting twice off Cliff Lee during a nationally televised August 21 game at Camden Yards. He’s totaled one RBI since August 28.
Overall, Bell is batting .211 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 152 at-bats, with two walks and 53 strikeouts.
I’m trying to climb inside Showalter’s head and figure out the plan with Bell. Showalter hasn’t given up on the rookie, but he’s chosen to use the final month to audition Robert Andino at third for a potential utility role next season, or occasionally shift Ty Wigginton there while giving Brandon Snyder or Luke Scott a start at first.
I know wins still count, but I also thought it was important to evaluate Bell and get a head start on the offseason blueprint. Have the Orioles already made their decision? Was Showalter concerned that the kid’s confidence was melting away? Was he just frustrated that Bell didn’t grab the opportunity with both hands - similar to the way Sidney Ponson lunges for a menu at the Cheesecake Factory? (I’ve lost count.)
I don’t see how the Orioles can approach the winter and not view third base as an area that needs to be addressed. You don’t quit on Bell, but you don’t pencil him into the Opening Day lineup.
So what happens? Does this mean another winter of sifting through the pile of third basemen who can be signed for one year? Do the Orioles look for more of a long-term solution and hope that Bell creates one of those pleasant problems by tearing it up in spring training or during the first two months of the Triple-A season?
I’m open to suggestions.
Here’s that list of free-agent third basemen again. I’m not including all the options attached to guys like Adrian Beltre, Jhonny Peralta and Aramis Ramirez:
Adrian Beltre (32)
Geoff Blum (38)
Jorge Cantu (29)
Eric Chavez (33)
Craig Counsell (40)
Pedro Feliz (36)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (35)
Omar Infante (29)
Brandon Inge (34)
Mike Lowell (37)
Melvin Mora (39)
Jhonny Peralta (29)
Aramis Ramirez (33)
Miguel Tejada (37)
Chad Tracy (31)
Juan Uribe (31)
Ty Wigginton (33)