GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The changeup. It’s a pitch that Trevor Bauer says he doesn’t need, but spent his offseason trying to perfect to make himself even better than last season.
He had his first chance to test it out in game action in Monday’s 11-5 loss to the Rangers at Goodyear Ballpark, Bauer's first spring start of 2019. The right-hander only threw fastballs and changeups and worked three scoreless frames, allowing one hit, one walk with two strikeouts. He said he will stick to throwing just those two pitches for the next four or five outings.
”I thought it was really good,” Bauer said. “The last pitch I threw was a hard line drive to first on it. It was just kind of like elevated in his bat path, but other than that I thought it played really well. And it’s probably going to play pretty well here in Arizona because it’s designed to slip out of my fingers. So, when everyone complains here in Arizona about the moisture, it kind of helps it. It’s good to get like an intermediate step before the full season.”
After throwing about 9,000 balls this winter, Bauer seems to be pleased with his progression from last season.
“The worst ones I threw this offseason in January were better than my changeup last year,” Bauer said. “So I’m super confident about it. I’ll check the Trackman numbers and high-speed footage after today. There’s no way it’s worse than last year. And to be honest, I don’t need it to be successful. I think I threw it like 7 percent of the time last year, but if I had, it just makes me that much more deadly. Pretty pumped about it. Excited to see where it goes.”
The plan was for Bauer to toss two innings on Monday, but because of his low pitch count he went back out for a third. He threw 10 pitches in the first inning and just five in the second. He allowed a single on his first pitch of the third, but needed just two more pitches to force a flyout and double play to end the frame.
“I don’t really know what it’s like to be efficient,” Bauer said. “Normally I throw 18 pitches or 19 pitches in one inning. So I kind of like this whole efficiency thing. Might have to try it out more often.”
Indians manager Terry Francona told Greg Allen at the beginning of Spring Training that he would be playing all three outfield positions to assure he has a fair chance of breaking camp with the Tribe. In his first two spring games, he has played in center field and, on Monday, he had a solid day at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a homer, a walk and an infield single.
”One of the keys for him is, in this day and age where everybody talks about launch angle and getting the ball in the air, one of his challenges is to get on top and hit line drives,” Francona said prior to Monday’s contest against Texas. “He’s kind of got a little bit of where he can loft the ball to left field where there’s just not a lot of hits that way for him. And he’s young and he’s still learning, especially as a switch-hitter because he’s got to do it both sides. But there’s so much to like about his game.”
Allen finished the season strong last year, hitting .450 in his final 10 games (excluding his one postseason plate appearance). As the competition for the starting jobs in the corners of the outfield start to heat up, Allen said he’s trying to build from the success he had in September.
”Obviously throughout the course of the year you play a lot of games, have a lot of at-bats, you’re going to have ups and downs,” Allen said. “For me personally, it’s looking back, having some reflection, being able to analyze the things I may not have been doing well, but also build off the things that I was, so I felt last year I was in a pretty good place, especially down the back half of that season. Definitely tried to carry that throughout the offseason and coming into spring.”
The Indians will travel to Scottsdale to play the Rockies on Tuesday at 3:10 p.m. ET at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Cleveland left-hander Sam Hentges will start against Colorado lefty Kyle Freeland.