GOODYEAR, ARIZ.: A couple of hours before Wednesday’s first spring training game, Indians manager Terry Francona said all he wanted to see starting pitcher Trevor Bauer do was “attack the strike zone.”
“If (Bauer) attacks the zone, that’d be a good first step,” the Tribe’s second-year skipper said.
A little later, Bauer finished his scheduled one-inning outing after walking the first two batters he faced — including a 10-pitch at-bat to leadoff hitter Billy Hamilton — and striking out another as part of a double play.
“Gomer (catcher Yan Gomes) helped him out a bit after that,” Francona said of throwing out a runner at second base to complete the double play.
Although Bauer, whose revamped delivery was on display after he spent all last season and much of the offseason making adjustments, escaped from the jam unscathed, other Tribe pitchers weren’t so fortunate in the 8-3 loss.
Reds outfielders Chris Heisey hit a seventh-inning, two-run home run off young right-hander C.C. Lee to turn a one-run game into a 6-3 deficit. Being just the first game of spring, results account for little. What matters most is Bauer appears to be on the right track.
“I felt good, body felt good,” he said. “It was good to get back out there in game situations.”
Bauer also said the ball felt better coming out of his hand than it did recently during his last bullpen when he struggled with his command.
“I don’t usually like my hand to be too sticky so I don’t like using rosin a whole lot,” Bauer said. “I actually like a little moisture. But it’s kind of hard to get any moisture out here in Arizona right now, so I used a little rosin and felt fine … Also got to work with some guys in scoring position, which I would have preferred not to, but I guess I got it all today.”
Pestano faces batters
Before the game, reliever Vinnie Pestano threw to live hitters for the first time this spring, facing minor-leaguers with pitching coach Mickey Callaway and bullpen coach Kevin Cash watching nearby.
Afterwards, Callaway told Northeast Ohio Media Group’s Paul Hoynes that Petano’s outing “was very encouraging.”
Although it’s widely understood that Pestano has to fight this spring to regain his eighth-inning set-up role, Francona wouldn’t go there.
“We know Vinnie can do it, but we do have to see it,” he said. “What we really want to do is get him back to throwing like he was.”
If video’s your thing
During the discussion about Francona’s feelings about the league’s new expanded instant replay, he revealed the club is in the process of hiring a video replay man who will be stationed in the clubhouse.
Wednesday marked the second consecutive day that first baseman Bryan LaHair (left wrist) advanced to taking swings on “overhand tosses.”
“It was a pretty good day of what they call improved aggressiveness (Tuesday),” Francona said of LaHair.
Veteran right-hander Shaun Marcum (thoracic outlet syndrome) continues to progress as well.
“He’s had a couple good bullpens,” Francona said. “Now again, there’s gotta be a progression, where he faces hitters and such. But he’s doing pretty well.”
Thanks, but no thanks
Francona has made it clear he’s no fan of “B” games so many teams play in spring training in an effort to get more of their players some playing time.
“We had one opportunity and we said, ‘no thank you,’?” Francona said. “That could eventually happen, but … we’ll see.”
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.