The terminology used to describe baseball often includes words like "battle" and "grind." Pirates manager Clint Hurdle refers to players "punching back" after the league has exploited a weakness.

Part of Jay Bell's approach to hitting balances the scales a bit.

"I relate baseball, whether it's offensively or defensively, to a waltz," said Bell, in his first spring training as the Pirates' hitting coach. "It's not a rave party. It's a waltz. It's smooth, it's elegant."

The Pirates offense was neither smooth nor elegant at times last season, the final year of Gregg Ritchie's tenure as hitting coach. Bell, familiar with the North Shore after playing for the Pirates for eight of his 18 major league seasons, takes over an offense full of both promise and questions.

"If you're a 40-man roster guy, you're a big league player, you've pretty much figured out a lot of things mechanically to do," Bell said. "Now it's just a matter of mastering the mental aspect of our game. A lot of times, that's the most difficult part of it, how to control ourselves mentally during the course of a game that starts speeding up on you."