The Trevor Bauer experience got off to a bit of a shaky start tonight in Atlanta. In the most hyped debut for a starting pitcher since Yu Darvish in April, the 2011 No. 3 overall pick allowed two runs over four innings as part of a no-decision against the Braves.
Bauer struck out Michael Bourn looking on a 3-2 pitch to begin his major league career and was able to get out of the first inning unscathed after giving up a two-out single to Martin Prado. The Braves threatened in the second inning after Chipper Jones singled and Freddie Freeman doubled, but the 21-year-old right-hander was able to get Andrelton Simmons on a ground out and Jair Jurrjens to strike out to escape.
Things got pretty dicey in a 30-pitch third inning. He walked three, hit a batter and gave up an RBI double to Brian McCann. The inning even included a visit from the team trainer, but the rookie right-hander checked out OK. He was pretty fortunate to get out of it with just one run crossing the plate. Bauer gave up a sacrifice fly in his final inning of work before Gerardo Parra pinch-hit for him with two outs in the top of the fifth.
All told, Bauer allowed five hits while walking three, striking out three and hitting a batter. He threw 42 out of 74 pitches for strikes. It’s worth noting that he threw 50 pitches Sunday during his final start with Triple-A Reno, so the Diamondbacks likely planned to have a quick hook all along.
It was a pretty uneven debut for Bauer, but it’s easy to see why he has garnered so much attention. While he didn’t have his best curveball working, he was hitting 95 mph with his fastball and showcased his wide assortment of pitches. He’ll be a lot of fun to watch moving forward.
Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.
While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.
Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”
He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”
Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.
According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”
Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.