GOODYEAR, Ariz: Ever since turning pro, Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer has looked at the game of baseball like a lot of people look at their jobs. Bauer isn’t finding the same joy in certain aspects of the game that he did when he was younger.
Bauer said Thursday, expanding from last season, that he doesn’t like the game as much and used to love it before adding that it’s certain aspects of it that he just no longer enjoys. This isn’t a new development, but something Bauer has dealt with for several seasons.
“Everyone has things they dislike about their job, everyone has things they like about their job,” Bauer said. “Even if it’s at the end of the day and they feel like they’re being productive doing something or putting food on the table for their family or whatever the case may be. Overall, baseball is a net positive in my life for sure.”
But, Bauer said, something hasn’t been the same since baseball became his professional occupation. On the mound, Bauer is where he wants to be. And in the offseason, he can put his analytical mind to its full capacity, researching the game. But aspects of preparation and daily work in baseball aren’t as enjoyable to him.
“I like different aspects of it,” he said. “I like doing research, I like the adrenaline rush of competing. Other than that, to say you enjoy doing the same thing every day, all the tedious work it takes to get ready to throw and recover and to lift and to maintain strength, to say I really enjoy that would be a lie.”
When asked what keeps him going, he said, “What else am I going to do?”
“I’ve spent 20 years doing this,” he said. “I’m 25 years old. What else am I going to do at this point? I still have goals in my career that I want to accomplish for personal satisfaction, prove to myself that I can do certain things. Obviously there’s a lot of team goals I want to accomplish — haven’t been to the playoffs, haven’t won a World Series. There are still things to do. When I actually pitch, it’s fun. But other than that, I could do without it.”
This is what Bauer is good at, and it’s that potential and competition with hitters that has kept him driven through it all. He’s long been a top prospect with a high ceiling, albeit at times that potential has come with quite a bit of risk.
Last season, Bauer went 11-12 with a 4.55 ERA and 170 strikeouts in 176 innings pitched. As the season went on, walks and home runs began adding up, and he ended the season in the bullpen after a poor August and disastrous September.
He hopes to build on that year and capitalize on the things he does well. And, he hopes to stay on the mound a bit longer each night. That part has remained the same.
Major League Baseball and the players’ union on Thursday banned “takeout slides” by base runners aimed at disrupting a double play.
This rule change is largely the result of Los Angeles second baseman Chase Utley’s hard slide into second base during last year’s playoffs, which ended with New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada breaking his leg.
The new rule, in effect, means runners need to enact a “bona fide slide” into the base — not around it, past it or into a fielder — and must attempt to maintain contact with the base. If it is determined that the runner intentionally slid into someone, he will be ruled out on interference.
This also means that takeout slides and “neighborhood plays,” a long unwritten rule of baseball that the fielder at second base just needs to be near the bag while turning a double play, are both reviewable.
“I like it,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I’ve never understood the neighborhood play. If you’re supposed to step on the bag, you’re supposed to step on the bag. It’s like the phantom tag. If you put the tag down but don’t tag the guy, he’s safe. I also understand they’re trying to not get guys carted off the field. This will be a good rule.”
Baseball and the union also agreed to limit mound visits to 30 seconds and have cut the countdown clock for between-inning breaks by 20 seconds, to 2:05 for local games and 2:25 for nationally televised games.
Left fielder Michael Brantley is still hitting off a tee, and Francona is allowing him to progress at his own pace. Each level he reaches with his hitting progression will determine the timetable for his return.
The team is checking in with him, but not hounding him each day, as a great deal of trust has been given to Brantley to monitor his shoulder situation.
“You can bet your bottom dollar he’ll be advancing when he’s ready,” Francona said. “Me asking isn’t going to help.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.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