No reason to be angry at Bell

PITTSBURGH — Don’t be mad at Le’Veon Bell.

Yes, he’s turned down more money than most of us will ever see. He’s doing that in the hope of breaking the bank as a free agent next summer, which is a risky strategy.

But he’s willing to assume that risk, and how can you fault him for that?

This is how the system works. The Steelers have again designated him as their franchise player, which keeps him here for another season. That gives the team the services of one of the game’s premier running backs and another 12 months to develop an alternative plan at that position.

Bell will probably skip training camp again, which makes sense from his perspective. There is speculation that he will sit out games, but that doesn’t make much sense.

He would lose in excess of $800,000 for every game he would miss. He could sour potential free agent bidders by putting his own interests ahead of the team. And what better way to advertise himself as a free agent than to pile up 100-yard games?

Perhaps Bell has learned from last season and will do a better job of preparing for the season without training camp. He was slow to start last year.

After that, it should be business as usual. He’ll still make a gigantic pile of money, and the Steelers will benefit from his talents and have a high-powered offense.

There’s no reason to be angry about that.

No deal

The Pirates’ five-game weekend sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers was a nice treat for fans who have been suffering with the team since their downturn in the middle of May.

But it did not make the Pirates a contender, and it shouldn’t alter their approach to the July 31 trade deadline.

They’re still too far out in the division race and the wild card, and they still have too many teams to overtake. There’s no reason to believe a team without a proven No. 1 starting pitcher and a legitimate cleanup hitter is capable of a near-miracle comeback

The bad thing is that two of the most marketable veterans, Josh Harrison and Francisco Cervelli, went into the All-Star break with injuries.

Harrison had a hamstring injury, the severity of which wasn’t immediately known. Cervelli’s situation is more serious, with a return of concussion symptoms that could affect his ability to be a catcher.

Cervelli has been working out at first base, but that won’t increase his appeal to other teams. His value is as a catcher, and now there are questions about whether he can play that position.

Do the Pirates consider trading Corey Dickerson, who has one year of arbitration eligibility left? It’s worth considering if they can get anything of value in return. However, there supposedly isn’t much demand for outfielders.

Playing in the rain

Why were the Brewers and Pirates playing through a downpour that made visibility difficult at the end of Sunday’s game?

It was the last game before the All-Star break. Most of the players on both teams — and maybe the umpires — were getting ready to head out on vacation. Nobody was anxious to linger.

Nobody wanted to stop the game, roll out the tarp and create at least a 30 minute delay to treat the field and get pitchers warmed up again.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

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