More relaxed in Year 2 in Cleveland, Bauer to make first big-league start Wednesday

Trevor Bauer throws his bullpen session today.

Starting at Tribe Fest in January, if you asked anyone around the Indians clubhouse their impressions of Trevor Bauer, you would have heard, “he seems relaxed, doesn’t he?”

Bauer, from his interactions with media, teammates and staff that weekend, seemed much more at ease in his second go-around in the Tribe clubhouse. It carried into Spring Training as well, where he pitched well save for one rough outing against the Angels and seemed, again, at ease with his surroundings.

After being optioned to Triple A Columbus to begin the season, he got a no-decision in his first start of the season despite striking out nine and allowing just one earned run in six innings.

So, what’s been the difference for Bauer, as he prepares for his first big-league start on Wednesday as part of the Indians traditional doubleheader with the San Diego Padres, necessitated by Monday’s rainout?

“This has been the first Spring Training that I repeated with one team,” Bauer said in a Spring Training interview. “I know the people around, the procedures, what’s expected. It’s a lot easier, when a lot of that stuff comes as second nature now. I don’t have to focus on who’s who and where do I go at what time?”

Those things may seem trivial, but Bauer — the No. 3 overall pick by Arizona in 2011, out of UCLA – said it can be a distraction. Now, he said, he’s better capable of fitting in in the clubhouse, and of focusing on pitching. Outside that one ugly line in Spring Training, he struck out seven in five innings, allowing just two runs. He’s also hit 97 on the radar gun in the early going.

“I’m a lot more relaxed when you can go auto pilot on that,” Bauer said. “You can focus on other stuff that’s going on, the fun stuff between the guys in the clubhouse, all the other stuff that goes on that makes you seem more integrated into the team. I may have missed some of that stuff last year because I was focusing on some of that other stuff because I was new and making sure I showed up at stretch at the right time.”

Indians Manager Terry Francona echoed Bauer’s thoughts before Tuesday’s  game, when he announced that Bauer would be called up as the team’s 26th man for Wednesday’s doubleheader, as allowed by Major League Baseball rules.

“A spot start is a tough thing to do, but he’s better situated for it right now,” Francona said. “He’s more comfortable with himself, with the organization. Familiarity has been good for him.

“His last four outings, he’s been pretty good. When you have success, confidence comes with it. Hopefully he steps in, goes six innings and keeps us going.”

–TribeVibe contributor Joel Hammond

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