Bauer keeps laser focus in recovery process

Kluber shaves his scraggly beard; Ramirez set for rehab assignment

August 28th, 2018
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 06: Starting pitcher Trevor Bauer #47 of the Cleveland Indians pitches against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning at Progressive Field on August 6, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)Ron Schwane/Getty Images

CLEVELAND -- is exercising tunnel vision when it comes to his throwing program right now. The sidelined Indians pitcher has worked with the training staff on assembling a comeback plan, and he keeps checking off box after box without focusing on the calendar.

"I've lost track of time," Bauer said prior to Tuesday's game against the Twins. "I've been here for, like, nine hours a day for the past two weeks doing stuff, so I don't really have a good perception of what day it is. I just know what I need to do next."

There have been two positive developments in Bauer's return from a stress fracture in his right fibula.

First, Bauer estimates that he moved out of the walking boot roughly a week ago, when the Indians were on the road. The bigger milestone arrived on Monday, when Bauer threw off a mound for the first time since going on the 10-day disabled list. Bauer sustained the injury on Aug. 11, when of the White Sox sent an ill-fated comebacker off the pitcher's foot.

The setback stalled what was developing into a campaign more than worthy of consideration for the American League Cy Young Award. In 25 starts, Bauer was 12-6 with a 2.22 ERA and 214 strikeouts against 56 walks in 166 innings. Even with Bauer missing the past two-plus weeks, his 5.9 WAR (per Fangraphs) is still the fourth-highest figure in the Major Leagues.

The aspect of the injury that has eaten the most at Bauer is that the situation was out of his control.

"The one thing I'm better at than anybody else," said Bauer, referring to being durable, "is the one thing keeping me out right now, through no fault of my own. ... I hit the DL because I got hit on a freaking line drive, not because I can't handle a workload or take care of my shoulder or I'm lazy with my recovery or whatever. So, I'm just sitting here, and all of my personal season goals are slowly drifting away."

The only goal on Bauer's mind now is returning in September and getting built up enough to be in the rotation again come playoff time.

"We all know his arm is going to be in great shape when the time comes," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I don't think we want to hold him back. As long as he's not hurting himself, we love the fact that he's pushing. That's what most guys do. They want to play."

Worth noting

• Indians ace has featured a long scraggly beard all season -- the result of a friendly bet with his wife, Amanda. The challenge was for him to see if he could go the entire season without shaving. Kluber arrived at the clubhouse clean-shaven on Tuesday after his wife had seen enough and finally asked him to hack the beard off.

"I'm the new guy -- just got traded here," Kluber said with a smile. "I hadn't shaved since around Christmas."

• Francona noted that right-hander (10-day DL, lower back spasms) is scheduled to pitch for Double-A Akron on Wednesday in a Minor League rehab assignment. Barring any setbacks, Ramirez would then pitch for Triple-A Columbus on Friday.

• Righty (60-day DL, right elbow) is scheduled to undergo a scope on his throwing elbow on Friday, with Dr. Keith Meister performing the procedure in Texas.