First: about the required (short) conversion: are you using a literal 0 or are you using a variable? Also, what version of POI are you using? The HSSFRow#getCell(short) has been deprecated and replaced with HSSFRow#getCell(int). Of course, if you were using the interfaces in the org.apache.poi.ss.* packages then you wouldn't have this problem either, because there is no Row#getCell(short).
About the display problem: You must be calling cell.toString(), or passing it to a method (like System.out.prinln()) which does the same. Apparantly the .toString() method prints a String representation of the Cell, not the Cell's value. You need to get the Cell's value out. If you look at the API, what methods do that?