Trevor Bauer opened the Cactus League play for Cleveland yesterday. I was watching from the comfort of my living room where the pellet stove churned out hot air and outside the single digit wind blew over the frozen field I live on. Those fans in Goodyear, AZ appeared to have slathered on plenty of sunscreen. I resolved to be there next year.
Apparently Trevor Bauer tweaked his mechanics over the winter at the Texas Baseball Ranch run by Ron Wolforth. I was anxious to see the sphinx rise from its ashes. Last year he experienced some growing pains in his Major League appearances and at AAA as well.
I wanted to see two things: I wanted to see him attack the strike zone and I wanted his fastball to have some movement, preferably down in the strikezone. Well, add one more thing…consistency. This is what you want from a number five guy in the rotation. And this from a guy that was drafted #3 overall in 2011 - not too much to ask?
To be fair, the #2 pick, Danny Hultzen is in pitching limbo also. But light years away from the #1 pick, Gerritt Cole who is showing maturity beyond his age with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
I was disappointed. I could see the mechanical changes… but the result was the same. The fastball was up and away from lefthanders and he immediately ran the count to 3-2 to lead off hitter Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds. Then the walk, followed by a stolen base, an errant throw from catcher Yan Gomes to the outfield and viola - Hamilton is standing on 3rd base as a result of failure to throw strikes.
Bauer failed to recover and walked the next batter, Brandon Phillips. With first and third…no outs Joey Votto bats. Here is where nine out of ten times Bauer is going to give up a run but this time, Votto strikes out on a high and outside pitch he shouldn’t have been swinging at. I think he did because Phillips was stealing. Gomes gunned Phillips down at second and now Bauer has two outs on an iffy strikem out throwem out and a chance to salvage his first outting.
Bauer coaxed a fly ball to left out of Jay Bruce, took a deep sigh of relief and headed for the dugout. I got to give him credit. If he was sweating it at all, he didn’t show it.