Jay Bell named the Pirates new hitting coach

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The Pirates are makin’ moves:

 

Bell, who most recently served as the hitting coach for the Mobile Bay Bears in the Diamondbacks organization, replaces Gregg Ritchie. Sofield, the new first base coach, managed Pirates affiliate the West Virginia Power in the South Atlantic League in 2012. Silverio — who is now the Senior Advisor for Latin American Operations — was the first base coach. Jauss was a scout.

The Pirates were tenth in runs per game in the NL last year, but were 14th in batting average and on-base percentage. Bell, who manned short for the Pirates back when they last actually won stuff, is tasked with improving those numbers.

Nathan Eovaldi to make 2018 debut for Rays soon

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Rays manager Kevin Cash said that pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will join the starting rotation on Monday or Tuesday to face the Athletics, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Eovaldi’s rehab outing with Triple-A Durham went well, even though he gave up eight runs in four innings.

Eovaldi, 28, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had arthroscopic surgery in March to remove loose bodies in his elbow. It’s been a long road back. Knowing Eovaldi needed to recover from surgery, the Rays signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in 2017 that included a $2 million club option for 2018 that they exercised last November.

When Eovaldi last pitched, he ranked among baseball’s hardest throwers, particularly among starters. He averaged 97.1 MPH on his fastball in 2016. Among starters who racked up at least 100 innings that season, only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard had a higher average velocity (97.9 MPH). It remains to be seen if he still has that velocity after undergoing two procedures on his elbow.

The Rays will be glad to have Eovaldi back. The club has sustained injuries to Jake Faria, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose De Leon.