Martinez: Bell's grand slam was moment that 'made him a National' originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
When the Washington Nationals acquired Josh Bell this offseason, the club hoped he would provide that middle-of-the-order power presence behind Trea Turner and Juan Soto that they desperately needed.
But for a variety of reasons, Bell struggled for much of the first few months of the season, entering Wednesday’s game hitting just .223 with nine home runs and 28 RBIs.
On Wednesday, though, Bell delivered in a huge moment for the Nationals, hitting a grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning to give Washington an 11-9 lead. The four-run bomb proved to be a pivotal moment in a back-and-forth contest, one the Nationals would win 13-12.
After the game, Nationals manager Davey Martinez was a bit emotional when discussing Bell’s grand slam, saying he felt it was the moment that “made him a National.”
“Big home run by J. Bell. That was huge. Two strikes, being able to stay on the ball, hit it the other way, that was big,” Martinez said. “To me, that was the moment right there I told myself, ‘That made him a National right there.’ That really did make him a National. Hopefully, he keeps it going.”
When Bell launched that 3-2 fastball from David Hale over the left-centerfield wall in Citizens Bank Park, the Nationals dugout erupted with fist pumps and cheers.
“I thought, ‘Heck yeah, here we go.’ For me, that will get him going. It really will,” Martinez said. “His teammates were going crazy and it was a big moment.”
Part of the reason that Martinez was so amped to see Bell deliver in that big moment was that the manager knows how much work his first baseman has done behind the scenes to perform better. He’s spent extra hours working with hitting coach Kevin Long, hoping to turn his season around after his early-year struggles.
“You watch this guy every day work the way he works, how passionate he is about our club and the team,” Martinez said. “It was awesome to see him come through like that.”
Bell’s home run helped propel the Nationals to their ninth win in its last 10 games, as Washington — like Bell — continues to dig out of an early-year hole. The Nationals are now just one game under .500 and just four games back from the Mets for first place in the NL East.
After coming through in a big way for Washington, Bell believes that Wednesday’s grand slam could, and will, be the turning point for his season at the plate.
“I’ve put in a lot of work with [hitting coach Kevin] Long, it seems like things are starting to turn around for me,” Bell said. “Hopefully, that’s one of quite a few moments I have with the Nationals.”