Bell to avoid IL after MRI on oblique came back ‘clean’

Josh Bell

Nationals first baseman Josh Bell underwent an MRI on his right oblique Friday that came back “clean,” giving manager Davey Martinez confidence that he’ll be able to suit up for Saturday’s game against the Miami Marlins.

Following Washington’s 11-2 loss to the Marlins on Friday, Martinez said on a Zoom call that Bell was available to pinch hit after taking some swings before the game. Bell last played Wednesday, when he went 2-for-4 with a grand slam in the Nationals’ back-and-forth 13-12 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Since the calendar turned to June, Bell has hit .281 with an .876 OPS in 18 games. He entered the month batting .207 but has shown some signs of life at the same time the Nationals have put together their best stretch of the season.

Even after losing Friday, Washington is 10-2 in its last 12 games. The Nationals have climbed back into the division race and head into the weekend trailing the New York Mets by four games.

Bell was originally penciled into the Nationals’ lineup for Thursday’s series opener in Miami but Martinez scratched him less than an hour before first pitch. While any extended time missed by Bell would’ve required Ryan Zimmerman to take over a majority of the starts at first base, it appears the Nationals have avoided having to place Bell on the injured list.