Bauer imitates batting stances to rave reviews
PITTSBURGH -- Trevor Bauer was waiting for the right moment. When he stepped into the batter's box in the seventh inning on Friday night, the Indians pitcher saw an opportunity and seized it. He raised his bat and began moving it in a violent circular motion.
The batting stance was more than familiar. This was Bauer as Mike Aviles.
"That was kind of funny," Aviles said after the Tribe's 5-2 win over the Pirates at PNC Park. "It was funny, because he was working on it yesterday pretty intensely in the dugout."
Aviles said Bauer also practiced the unique batting stances of teammates Jason Kipnis and Ryan Raburn while the team was at Tropicana Field during the recent series against the Rays. Knowing he would get a chance to bat under National League rules during his start on Friday, Bauer told Aviles that he was going to borrow the batting styles during the game.
Aviles assumed Bauer was not serious.
"He was," Aviles said with a laugh.
During a nine-pitch walk against Pirates left-hander Antonio Bastardo in the seventh inning, Bauer used the stances belonging to Aviles, Kipnis and Raburn. It began with Aviles' signature bat waggle for Bastardo's first three pitches. Before the fourth, Bauer lowered the bat horizontally behind him, mimicking the initial setup in Kipnis' stance. Next came Raburn's stance, which includes the bat on the shoulder and bringing his forearms together.
"Kip's is pretty easy," Bauer said. "But the Aviles, if you can get the Aviles down, that's probably the funniest one."
At the time, the Indians held a 2-0 lead over Pittsburgh. Given that Cleveland is also in the midst of a five-game winning streak, Bauer felt it was an opportune moment to give his teammates a laugh.
"Obviously, I don't think you do that when you're down in a game or whatnot," Bauer said. "I really don't expect myself to get a hit. I don't think anybody really expects me to get a hit, either. So I'm just trying to have some fun with it and keep things loose. It seems to be working for us recently. Everyone seems to be having a little more fun and joking around a little bit more."
Bauer's teammates were indeed laughing from the visiting bench.
Asked about Bauer's at-bats, Indians manager Terry Francona smirked.
"He's actually kind of held his own. He has a few different batting stances," Francona said. "I probably don't laugh as much as the other guys. I probably worry more about the guys getting hurt, because they're just not up there that much."
Aviles felt Bauer's timing was good.
"We're winning. We're having fun," Aviles said. "Everybody was laughing. We were like, 'Wait, that's Kipnis. Oh, that's Aviles. Oh, that's Raburn.' It was cool to see him go through all three in one at-bat. He worked him pretty good. He masked his normal approach, so I don't think the pitcher knew what to throw. He had four hitters up there."
In all, Bauer went to the stances of Aviles and Kipnis four times apiece, although he switched from Aviles to Kipnis when Bastardo stepped off the rubber before his seventh pitch. Bauer came close to a hit with an opposite-field foul ball down the right-field line, but he ultimately drew a walk.
Bauer said he has also been working on catcher Roberto Perez's stance, and he quipped that he might study David Murphy's style, too.
"Sometimes in the National League, I guess they pinch-hit for the pitcher," Bauer joked. "I figured I'd pinch-hit and try to stay in as long as I could."