TODAY: Bell is in the Nationals’ lineup today after getting good results from the MRI. “He said he feels fine. We’ll monitor how the game goes with him today, but right now he looks good,” Martinez told MLB.com’s Jessica Camerato and other reporters.
JUNE 24: Josh Bell was a late scratch from the Nationals lineup tonight, and manager Davey Martinez told reporters (including Jesse Dougherty of The Washington Post) that the first baseman is feeling soreness in his right side. Since Bell’s issue is in his oblique area, the Nats sat him for precautionary reasons, and Bell will undergo an MRI tomorrow.
Bell is the latest in a seemingly unending stream of players dealing with side muscle/oblique injuries this season, and he has dealt with a similar injury in the past. A minor left oblique strain sent Bell to the 10-day injured list back in 2018, though only for a minimal stint.
Acquired from the Pirates in a trade on Christmas Eve, Bell didn’t officially begin his Nationals tenure until April 12, as he was one of several players sidelined by a COVID-19 outbreak on the Washington roster. He then struggled to a .487 OPS over his first 91 plate appearances, though Bell proceeded to catch fire, hitting .298/.360/.544 with seven home runs over his past 125 PA.
While more will be known about Bell’s status after the MRI, it would obviously be a real setback for the surging Nats if Bell was lost to the injured list. Veteran Ryan Zimmerman is the top candidate to play first base in Bell’s absence, though since Zimmerman has stated how he feels he can be more productive by not playing full time, the Nationals might prefer to keep Zimmerman as part of a platoon. The left-handed hitting Gerardo Parra has first base experience, so a Parra/Zimmerman combo could hold the fort if Bell is sidelined, with Jordy Mercer also available for the odd bit of playing time.