Bauer unhappy but adjusting to new role in Indians' bullpen
CLEVELAND (AP) Pursing his lips, Trevor Bauer shrugged and answered questions without showing much emotion.
The right-hander wouldn't come out and say he was still upset at the Indians for moving him to the bullpen to start the season, a surprising move considering he started 30 games in 2015 and pitched well this spring.
Bauer didn't need words to convey his message. His tone and body language revealed his feelings.
''They tell me to go pitch and I pitch,'' Bauer said. ''Whatever they decide my role is, that's what I go do. That's the definition of being professional, right?''
A week after being told he would begin the season as a reliever, Bauer spoke with reporters Wednesday about his switch. He had declined interviews in Arizona and Monday he responded to several questions by saying, ''As long as the team wins, it's good.''
Despite winning 11 games last season and setting career highs in innings, appearances and strikeouts, Bauer lost his spot in the rotation as the Indians decided to make Cody Anderson and Josh Tomlin their respective No. 4 and No. 5 starters.
It's a new world for the 25-year-old Bauer, and he's having trouble accepting it.
''It's different,'' said Bauer, who gave up a two-run homer to David Ortiz in the ninth inning of Tuesday's 6-2 season-opening loss. ''Anytime something changes, it's just different. It takes a while to get used to. They tell me to go pitch and I pitch. Whatever they decide my role is, that's what I go do. That's the definition of being professional, right?''
Bauer did everything he could in Arizona to win a starting job. He posted a 2.14 ERA in 21 innings, walking just five and striking out 20. On the day he was told he'd be pitching in relief, Bauer pitched six shutout innings against the Los Angeles Angels with seven strikeouts and no walks.
It wasn't enough.
After he led the AL with 79 walks last season, the Indians wanted him to work on his control and he was in the strike zone throughout Cactus League play.
It still wasn't enough.
When it came down to deciding his role to start this season, the ball was in someone else's hands. Bauer, whose detailed, off-beat warmup and reliance on analysis has given him the reputation of being quirky, initially didn't handle the Indians' decision well.
''I thought the first day he was mad, which we expected,'' Indians manager Terry Francona said. ''If somebody told me, I'd probably have been mad, too. If he was glad that would have set up a worse message. I didn't think he was disrespectful, which is important. He knows he's not been banished to the bullpen. I think there's a difference.''
Led by former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, the Indians have one of the best rotations in baseball. There are bound to be injuries and the Indians feel Bauer will be needed at some point in a starting role.
''We fully expect he'll help us in one way or another when he pitches,'' Francona said. ''I think it's being realistic that you don't go through the year with five starters. I wish we did, but the chances of that are very slim. And he's the one guy who can probably be in the bullpen for a period of time and come back and pitch and not have to go 2-3-4 (days without throwing) because his arm is conditioned to throw so much.
''In the meantime, we're going to try to use him when he can help us. At some point, it wouldn't shock me that he's back in the rotation.''