Outfielder Josh Bell, the Pirates' No. 6 prospect, powered Class A Bradenton to a doubleheader sweep over Palm Beach on Thursday. Bell homered in both games of the twin bill, and delivered the game-winning hit in the opener before scoring both of the Marauders' runs in the nightcap.
Bell, ranked No. 61 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list, combined to go 5-for-7 with two home runs, a double, four runs and four RBIs in the two games.
The first game of the day was the completion of Wednesday's game, which was suspended in the fourth inning because of heavy rain. Bell had homered before the rain came, but the Marauders still trailed, 3-2, when it was suspended.
After they picked it back up Thursday, Bell added two more hits -- including a two-run, walk-off single in the ninth inning. Bradenton won the game, 6-5, and Bell went 3-for-4 with two runs and three RBIs.
In the second game, Bell opened the scoring when he doubled and came around to score in the fourth inning. He hit a solo home run in the sixth, and Bradenton held on for a 2-0 victory.
Right-hander Tyler Glasnow, the Pirates No. 3 prospect and No. 23 overall, threw five scoreless innings in the nightcap. He allowed three hits and two walks while striking out seven batters. He threw 89 pitches and improved to 3-3 with a 1.90 ERA in nine starts this year.
Thursday concluded the first half of the season in the Florida State League. Entering the All-Star break, Bell is hitting .318/.368/.512 with nine home runs in 62 games. He ranks second in the league in slugging percentage, third in the league in OPS (.880) and fifth in home runs.
Bell will represent the South Division in Saturday's Home Run Derby and All-Star Game, which will be played at Bradenton's McKechnie Field.
Walker in good spirits after appendectomy
PITTSBURGH -- When Neil Walker awoke Monday morning, "I certainly didn't expect to finish the day on a hospital bed."
When incessant abdominal cramps sent Walker to the doctor's office around two in the afternoon, he didn't expect to be kept away from the Pirates' game that night against the Cubs.
"At about six o'clock," Walker said, "I was asking them to hurry up, because I needed to get back and play. Then they said, 'You're not going anywhere, you gotta go upstairs [to the hospital] and get worked on.'"
And that's how Walker found out he would be getting an appendectomy, which promptly landed him on the 15-day disabled list. The second baseman was back in the team clubhouse on Thursday, a little paler but otherwise appearing well and in good spirits.
"The chemicals and drugs are out of my system, so I feel pretty good," he said. "I couldn't be away from the clubhouse much longer."
Walker expressed hope that he wouldn't be out of the lineup for much longer than the required 15 days.
"As long as the wounds are healing normally and I feel OK, I can pretty much do whatever I can handle," Walker said. "Most important thing for me is to keep my legs strong, don't get too far away from being in shape. I have 15 days to see how I progress, but I don't think it's going to take much more time."
Walker was set to depart with the team following Thursday night's game for a weekend series in Miami with the Marlins.
"I'll be there to lead cheers," Walker said, "but hopefully it won't be long before I can resume working out."
Walker planned to reach out to the Cardinals' Matt Holliday, who was back in the St. Louis lineup nine days after an appendectomy on April 1, 2011, to hear what limitations he can expect in his early rehab.
With Harrison hobbled, Bucs call up Martinez
PITTSBURGH -- Josh Harrison may not be a candidate to take his sore left ankle to the disabled list, but with two middle infielders possibly out of commission for the short run, the Pirates got some reinforcement by selecting the contract of Michael Martinez from Triple-A Indianapolis on Thursday.
Right-hander Casey Sadler was optioned back to Indianapolis to clear roster space for Martinez, who had put himself in line for this promotion with a strong Spring Training performance.
Harrison twisted his ankle early in Wednesday night's game, and was only a long shot to be available off the bench Thursday. He had started in place of Neil Walker, who is on the 15-day disabled list recovering from an appendectomy.
Other than having to do it in an ankle brace, Harrison appeared to be walking around the clubhouse comfortably. He deferred questions about his condition to manager Clint Hurdle.
"He's gone through different tests and drills," Hurdle said, "and the best thing to come out of that is, we don't feel he's a DL candidate. We think he's improved. He could possibly be used off the bench tonight."
Martinez signed a Minor League contract with Pittsburgh in December after refusing a Minor League assignment by the Phillies, for whom he had appeared in 29 games last season, and 162 from 2011-13.
A versatile defensive and offensive player, the 31-year-old Martinez is a pepper pot 5-foot-9 switch-hitter able to play anywhere in the outfield and the infield, with the exception of first base.
He was batting just .229 in 61 games with the Indians, but he had hit .382 in 18 Grapefruit League games this spring.
• Gerrit Cole (shoulder fatigue) moved up his bullpen from Friday to Thursday, and said everything went well with the 20-fastball session.
• The only shortstop to log a two-hit, two-steal game older than Derek Jeter, who did it Wednesday night, 15 days shy of his 40th birthday? The Pirates' own Honus Wagner, who was 41 when he did it on May 10, 1915, against the Cubs.
• Andrew McCutchen had collected 13 extra-base hits in the first 10 games of June, becoming the first Pirates player to get 13 long hits in any 10-game stretch since Barry Bonds did it in his first 10 games of 1988.
First number, last word
1,000: Career games started at catcher, a level reached by only three active players -- A.J. Pierzynski (1,633 games), Yadier Molina (1,197) and Brian McCann (1,004). Russell Martin, who started No. 999 Thursday night, will become the fourth this weekend in Miami.
"I expected him to reverse-flip, dismount and stick the landing."
-- Hurdle, on acrobatic and athletic catcher Martin's chase of a foul popup in the ninth inning of Wednesday's game, which had ended with him jumping on the dugout railing to watch the ball bounce into the seats.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.