Bell not assured of trip to Norfolk

SARASOTA, Fla. - Pitchers Justin Duchscherer and Adrian Rosario were sent back to their condo and hotel, respectively, because they’re dealing with virus symptoms. They weren’t scheduled to throw today, so at least they exhibited good timing.

Manager Buck Showalter included Josh Bell among the players who are competing for a utility spot. Mark Reynolds is the starting third baseman, which seems to indicate that Bell is headed to Triple-A Norfolk. That’s still the likely outcome, but Bell will get a chance to win a job as the backup at third base and first base.

“I think Josh is going to come in here and have a really good spring,” Showalter said, noting that Bell has vastly improved his conditioning over the winter.

“There’s a way he can make this club if I feel like the at-bats are there for him, being a switch-hitter. Izzy (Cesar Izturis) has the middle infield covered, so that guy doesn’t necessarily have to be a guy who can play the middle of the infield.”

I’d still expect Bell to be Norfolk’s starting third baseman on opening day, but Showalter doesn’t want him coming to camp feeling like he has no shot at making the 25-man roster. Showalter is at least open to the idea of Bell working in a reserve role.

Asked if he saw Reynolds’ batting practice session today, Showalter replied, “I heard it. I didn’t see it.”

Showalter talked to hitting coach Jim Presley about Reynolds’ impressive power display.

“I said, ‘What did you expect him to do, drop down four or five bunts?’” Showalter said. “I said something about the wind blowing out on that field, and he said, ‘It didn’t matter about the wind.’ He made the ball look small, supposedly.”

Brandon Snyder caught Koji Uehara’s bullpen session today and will continue to get some work behind the plate.

“I think it just enhances his value to the organization that he gets a few days here, and you’ll see him play first base here,” Showalter said. “It’s just kind of getting in this head that it’s an avenue that makes him more valuable to a club. We all saw how it played out for a guy like (Jake) Fox. You’re always looking for a guy who’s a third catcher, so I think this enhances the way everybody looks at him. It’s as much of a reminder to him and us what he was originally.”

Snyder also will take some ground balls at third base.

Nolan Reimold could eventually get some work at first base, but not until the roster is reduced. He’ll report as an outfielder and focus on those duties.

“He may get some looks over there,” Showalter said.

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