Josh Bell is a starting third baseman in the majors again.
The Arizona Diamondbacks purchased Bell from Class AAA Reno and installed him as the starting third baseman Monday, a move the D-backs had been mulling on their recent road trip as a way to kick-start their sluggish offense. He was 1 for 3 with a single two strikeouts and a fielding error in a 6-1 loss to the Dodgers.
Bell, who spent parts of 2010-11 as Baltimore's starter at third, was hitting .381/.429/.619 with four home runs and 30 RBIs in 26 games at Reno. He was acquired in late April for minor league lefthander Mike Belfiore in another one of those incremental-value trades that has defined general manager Kevin Towers' career.
"He was very productive down there, and we are looking for more production," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. "Ultimately we made a decision we were going to make a change at third base. He'll get a lot of playing time. See how he adjusts. He swings the bat good. He has kind of gap power. Not a huge home run hitter, but he can swing the bat. We're obviously looking for more contact. Hopefully he can bring that as well."
Bell, a switch-hitter, hit .200 with three homers and 18 RBIs in 220 at-bats with Baltimore in parts of two seasons. He opened 2011 as the started but was demoted after a slow start. Bell, 25, was 3 for 32 in nine games with Class AAA Norfolk before being acquired by the Diamondbacks.
"It's a humbling game," said Bell, who could not put a finger on his difficulty with the Orioles. "Same work ethic. I think it's just baseball. Hopefully the experience I got there will help me out here. Nothing really changed. The change of scenery was great for me. I don't think it was anything about my approach. I just think I got in a good situation at Reno.
"Change is always good, especially when it is with a great bunch of guys."
Ryan Roberts, who had a career year at third base in 2011 after winning the job in May, will become a utility man, Gibson said, and play some second base. Roberts has nine hits in his last 28 at-bats but was hitting .227 with two homers and 16 RBIs when Bell was promoted.
Third baseman Cody Ransom, who had four homers and 13 RBIs in 52 at-bats after joining the team from Reno in mid-April, was designated for assignment.