Washington Nationals first baseman Josh Bell is giving his original team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, a chance to see what they could have had if they hadn’t traded him away.

Through the first two games of a four-game series that continues Saturday in Pittsburgh, Bell has driven in three runs, scored twice and walked twice. Overall, he is batting .333 with at least one hit in eight of Washington’s first nine games.

It’s a strong start to his second season with the Nationals, with Bell still looking to fill his potential as a dominating hitter. So far, so good.

“He’s a professional through and through,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “So I just want him to worry about that and just go out there every day and play the game the right way. He does that.”

Washington beat Pittsburgh 7-2 on Friday, leaving each team with one win halfway through the series.

The Pirates had won three of four before Friday, but they followed a 14-hit performance Thursday with a quiet five-hit outing.

“Just didn’t get the big hit,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said of the difference.

Washington left-hander Josh Rogers (1-0, 1.69 ERA) is scheduled to start on Saturday opposite Pittsburgh right-hander Bryse Wilson (0-0, 6.75).

In his only start this year, Monday at Atlanta, Rogers picked up the win with a strong 5 1/3 innings, allowing one run and two hits with three strikeouts and two walks.

Not bad for someone whose hopes of being in the rotation were dashed and then quickly restored.

Rogers got sent to Triple-A Rochester on the day the Nationals finalized their roster, then was recalled less than a week later to start against the Braves when Anibal Sanchez (neck) was scratched and placed on the 10-day IL.

“I think I would be lying if I said I wasn’t mad or down,” Rogers said. “I’m competitive and wanted to make the team, just like everybody else. It is what it is — just take it and go to Triple-A and just do what I do and have a good attitude and turn the page.

“I was mad for 12 hours, wake up the next day and it’s all about the process and it’s part of it. Obviously, (I was) super pumped to get back up here and to be able to get the ball and throw it.”

Rogers gave up an RBI single in the first inning against the Braves, then ripped off three straight 1-2-3 innings.

“The key with him is attacking the strike zone early,” Martinez said. “When he gets ahead, he keeps fighting, keeps getting outs and his attitude, his attitude out there is just pumped up, so it’s fun to watch him pitch.”

Rogers has faced the Pirates once, last Sept. 10. He did not get a decision after giving up two runs and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings. Rogers walked one and struck out one.

Wilson, in his first start of the season, did not get a decision in a 9-4 Pirates win Sunday at St. Louis. He gave up three runs and five hits in four innings, fanning two and walking one.

Against the Nationals, Wilson is 0-1 with an 11.81 ERA in two career appearances, one start.

–Field Level Media