|Monday, March 18
Updated: March 20, 6:45 PM ET
Bell angry at notion of competing for right-field spot
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Derek Bell, who hit only .173 last season, said he'll go into "Operation Shutdown" and won't risk injuring himself if the Pittsburgh Pirates do not give him the starting job in right field.
Manager Lloyd McClendon and general manager Dave Littlefield said Bell, Armando Rios and Craig Wilson are competing and the starter hasn't been decided. But Littlefield said Bell has done little to win the job.
"Nobody told me I was in competition," Bell told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "If there is competition, somebody better let me know. If there is competition, they better eliminate me out of the race and go ahead and do what they're going to do with me. I ain't never hit in spring training and I never will.
"If it ain't settled with me out there, then they can trade me. I ain't going out there to hurt myself in spring training battling for a job. If it is (a competition), then I'm going into 'Operation Shutdown.' Tell them exactly what I said. I haven't competed for a job since 1991."
Littlefield told the Post-Gazette that Bell is "certainly" competing for a job.
"At this point, he hasn't done a lot to show he deserves a lot of playing time. He just hasn't performed," Littlefield said. "Last year, he was injured. He looks healthy. We just have to see more production."
Bell was one of the majors' worst-performing players last season, hitting five homers with 13 RBIs in 46 games in the first year of a $9 million, two-year contract. He missed most of the second half of the season with a strained knee and a hamstring injury.
This spring, Bell is 4-for-27 (.148) with three RBIs.
Bell's big contract, which he landed despite hitting below .200 in the second half of the 2000 season with the Mets, is believed to have contributed to former Pirates general manager Cam Bonifay's firing in June.