CLEVELAND: For roughly three months, a broken bat stood upright just inside the doorway of Trevor Bauer’s Houston-area home, a shattered trophy waiting for his triumphant return.

The bat belonged, at one time, to Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman. It now stood proudly on its end in Bauer’s home, the first item to welcome him back when the Indians traveled to Houston recently. Broken bats are like mementos from battle for a pitcher, and Bauer had his prize.

Bauer recorded himself entering his house — the bat just outside the swing of the door, a large crack down the middle on full display — and posted the video to Twitter. Bauer says it was meant to be a joke three months in the making after the two, who met in early February, traded friendly taunts while training at Dynamic Sports Training in Texas just before each had to head to his respective spring camp in Arizona.

“I met him that day and we joked around. He talked s*** to me and I talked s*** to him in a friendly, training way, and I love that,” Bauer said. “I love that in a training environment because it raises the stakes a little bit. Then we faced each other and I told him there were some at-bats where I’d tell him what pitches were coming, like, ‘You can’t hit this even if I tell you before I throw it,’ going back and forth, general banter.”

The video was one of the several ways in which Bauer recently said he was trying to make a joke or have some fun with a potentially tense situation. But some of it might have been perceived in a different light than intended in the Astros clubhouse in the wake of recent remarks Bauer made about an issue around Major League Baseball involving pitchers using banned, foreign substances to gain an edge.

Bauer earlier this month had to clarify remarks he made on Twitter saying that while he believes there is a larger problem at hand around the game with “sticky” substances influencing spin rates and thus the movement of the ball, he wasn’t directly accusing or implicating any individual player or team, namely the Astros, who seemed be insinuated as being involved in a first round of tweets that eventually led to a series of online rebuttals. Bauer said again on Friday that he has nothing but respect for the Astros but, regardless of the intention, the tweets involving their own pitchers and the issue of banned substances weren’t welcomed by those in the Astros clubhouse.

“Everybody online and everybody I guess in their organization or whatever felt X-Y-Z about it,” Bauer said. “And everyone’s going to say, ‘Oh, I’m just covering or I’m backtracking or I was just caught making accusations,’ or whatever, which is fine, but it’s not true. I have no problem telling the truth. I get myself into trouble for it all the time.”

Bregman was one of the Astros who responded to one of the tweets involving the Astros, referring to Bauer as “Tyler.” Looking to make a joke out of it, Bauer taped “Tyler” over the nameplate on his jersey when the club traveled to Houston on May 18. Bauer had posted the broken-bat video a day earlier and then on May 18 also donated to Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr.’s foundation, in the process not-so-sneakily adding the word “sticky” to his tweet announcing the donation. McCullers quickly responded, saying they’d be re-donating the money to another charity rather than simply accepting the money.

For the most part, Bauer has been given the cold shoulder by the team he will face on Sunday in a matchup that at the very least from the outside now has additional intrigue. Bregman on Thursday declined to comment on the matter, or anything relating to Bauer. As Bauer said, “Apparently, people don’t get my sense of humor or don’t appreciate it or aren’t interested in it.”

“I texted [Bregman] while I was in Houston,” Bauer said. “I was like, ‘Hey, man, I don’t mean any of this seriously. I’m just joking around. I’m sorry if it seems like you guys might be taking it not that way. My apologies. It’s not a personal assault, it’s nothing personal against you guys. I have a lot of respect for you guys.’ ... That was my plan before the other s*** happened, and I think he probably took it the wrong way.

“After the video, I tried to get his attention on the first day when I had Tyler on my back but he wouldn’t look over at me. Then I was like, ‘Ah, maybe he’s upset about it or something.’?”

And, yet, that might not be the biggest extracurricular storyline attached to Bauer’s matchup with the Astros. Sunday’s game marks the first time in the majors that he’ll take the mound opposite Gerrit Cole, his former teammate at UCLA. The two made history when they were drafted first (Cole) and third (Bauer) overall in the 2011 draft, but not only didn’t they get along as Bruins, they didn’t speak to one another.

When Bauer — who has always walked his own path and wanted to be able to go through what he felt was best for his development — went to UCLA, he says he had an agreement with coach John Savage that he’d be able to go through his own workout routine that didn’t involve heavy lifting. Bauer would work out at the same time as his teammates, but he wouldn’t go through the same lifting program.

Cole pitched the Friday games and Bauer pitched the Saturday games, a dynamic 1-2 punch in a collegiate weekend series. Bauer said that within his second full week of going to UCLA, Cole called him out in front of their teammates, in the process insulting his work ethic.

“Gerrit decided to loudmouth me one morning when everyone was over there lifting or squatting, ‘Oh, you’re going over there to do your f****** bands and b*******, you don’t want to work out with the team, f*** you,’ or whatever,” Bauer said. “And I’m just not that type of person. I don’t respond to people getting in my face and loud mouthing me and stuff like that. I work my ass off. That’s the only reason I’m here, period.”

Bauer says that Cole also told him that he had no future in baseball. While discussing all of the aforementioned situations involving the Astros, Bauer outlined that he tries to withhold judgment about another player or person until meeting them, an offering of fairness to not allow outside perception to dictate his opinion of them. It’s potentially part of the reason why he took exception to someone who barely knew him saying he’d have no future in the game on top of insulting his work ethic.

“And who are you to say that?” Bauer said, referencing Cole’s comments at UCLA. “Like, that was the second week I was at UCLA. You’ve been around me for 10 days, maybe? Who the f*** are you to say that? So, we didn’t get along. ... I have no place in my life for that. It takes too much energy and there’s no benefit to it for me.”

Bauer said he holds no grudges with Cole today and has been happy to see the success his former teammate has had, as the two are forever connected by that draft and their time together in college. At UCLA, though, they were teammates and not much else, co-existing because of a common goal of trying to win but without any friendly banter. As Bauer explained, “That’s how the rocky relationship started, and I have no problem with him now.”

“We didn’t talk, and there’s no problem with that,” Bauer said. “He’s a highly competitive guy, highly talented. I’m highly competitive and talented myself. And I want to be the best. He’d pitch on Friday nights and I wanted to one-up him on Saturday, and it made for a productive staff.

“Not everybody on a team is going to be friends. You have a ton of personalities, but as long as you all show up to the field and do your best to put the team in a productive spot and win games, we can all get along in that way. We didn’t get along, but I’m happy Gerrit was on my team because 2010 was a special year.”

On Sunday, it’ll all be taken to the field, both a normal outing in some respects and, in others, a saga continued.

Ryan Lewis can be reached at rlewis@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RyanLewisABJ