Terry Francona on Trevor Bauer: “He’s a stubborn kid and he’s come a long way”

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Trevor Bauer has had a solid season for Cleveland, posting a 4.22 ERA in 22 starts while striking out 124 batters in 130 innings as a 23-year-old, but his first-inning struggles have the Indians talking to him about making changes.

Bauer has a 5.14 ERA in the first inning and had a particularly rough opening frame Thursday, after which manager Terry Francona told Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

We can’t keep getting out to deficits like that. He just worked behind in the count the first time and a half through the order. The second time and a half through the order, he worked ahead and the results were drastically different.

I just think Trevor tries to find him pitches right away in the game and sometimes it takes a while. That’s why we’ve talking to him about simplifying things early. But he’s a stubborn kid and he’s come a long way. You’re not always going to get it in one jump. Sometimes it take a a while to be a finished product.

The “he’s a stubborn kid” part played a role in the Diamondbacks trading Bauer to the Indians for pennies on the dollar, but for the most part Francona and Cleveland have to be very happy with his progress this season. He’s got nearly a strikeout per inning while limiting homers and cutting his walk rate from horrible to merely bad. And at age 23 he looks like a potential long-term building block for the Indians.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.