Although Bell was able to begin painful workouts within six weeks of the injury, the swelling in his knee had not yet subsided and he was not cleared to play. The Pirates told him to wait until spring training to resume full workouts.
If not for the injury, Bell would be opening the season either at the Pirates' advanced Class A club in Bradenton, Fla., or their Class AA team in Altoona, Pa.
Bell, the son of a University of Texas-Arlington professor, tries to keep things in perspective.
"It was a little bit of a curveball,'' he said. "It's just a bad bounce that you have to take.''
When spring training arrived, he was at full strength and impressed his new manager.
"He looked tremendous in spring training,'' said Ryan, who spent five seasons as an outfielder for the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Angels.
Ryan and hitting coach Orlando Merced, a former Pirates outfielder, will work with Bell on his outfield play.
"We're trying to brush him up a little bit on his defense as far as his route [to the ball],'' said Ryan. "That's going to be his main concern because the guy can hit. He can hit for power. He can run. He can do it all.''
Reach Mike Whiteford at mikewhitef...@wvgazette.com.