Pinkie swear: Bauer insists cut 'non-issue'

Indians' Game 3 starter, and self-proclaimed nerd, brings drone to interview

October 16th, 2016

TORONTO -- took the podium at Rogers Centre on Sunday afternoon, sitting alongside the party responsible for the laceration on his pitching hand. On the table to the right of the Indians starter was the drone that he designed and built, and the one that cut open his right pinkie finger a few days ago.

"I brought my friend to answer any questions about what happened," Bauer said.

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On the eve of Bauer's Game 3 start against the Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series, laughter overtook the interview room. Injecting some humor into an embarrassing situation was the hope for Bauer, who intends to take the ball tonight in Toronto with the Indians holding a 2-0 series edge. He does not expect his stitched-up finger to interfere with his ability to pitch, either.

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There have been a lot of people shaking their heads and chuckling over the past 48 hours, considering the unique nature of Bauer's injury, which was the most Bauer injury ever. Late Thursday night, the pitcher was working on his drone and had his right hand positioned over the machine, as he turned it on. Three of the four propellers spun slower, while the fourth went "max throttle," as Bauer phrased it.

The drone jumped and the propellor sliced the top of the pitcher's pinkie finger. He caught a cab, headed to the emergency room, received 10 stitches and informed the Indians of what happened. That chain of events led to starting in Game 2 in Bauer's place Saturday, and Bauer having his start pushed back two days to allow the finger more time to heal.

Since the injury was not serious, Bauer's teammates were able to laugh off the incident.

"If he hasn't gotten a bunch of grief about it, he probably will," ace said. "If he would've been doing something that he wasn't supposed to be doing, it probably would've been hard to live with. It was something that was completely innocent. He was doing what his hobby is outside of baseball. You can't really fault him for that."

Kluber plays golf. Tomlin likes to hunt. Bauer builds drones.

Bauer brings injurious drone to news conference, talks about Star Wars

"I think it's a fairly well-known thing about me that I'm a big nerd," Bauer said with a smirk.

Bauer's dad has an engineering background and the pitcher studied mechanical engineering while attending UCLA. When the right-hander is not studying and analyzing the physics of pitching, he is designing, constructing and flying his "fleet" of drones. He has some for racing and others for photography. Bauer has become skilled at navigating the drones, and has shared videos on social media from the cameras attached to the machines.

During Sunday's light-hearted news conference, Bauer offered some insight into his passion. He said a video he found three years ago showed a series of drones flying through a forest. The way they zipped around the trees reminded Bauer of a scene in "Return of the Jedi," which is Episode VI in the "Star Wars" film series.

"It reminded me of the scene on Endor where they're driving the speeder bikes," said Bauer. "I said, 'That looks awesome. I've got to learn how to do that. So, I started teaching myself about it, reading up about it."

Asked to name his favorite "Star Wars" movie, Bauer said, "Episode I: The Phantom Menace," citing Darth Maul being such a great villain. That made sense. Maul used a double-sided lightsaber, and Bauer carries around a six-foot-long shoulder tube that he uses as part of his training program.

"I don't have a least favorite one," Bauer quickly clarified. "They're all 1A, 1B."

This season, Bauer has often exited the clubhouse -- on the road or at home -- with a large backpack containing some of his drones. The right-hander can sometimes be spotted sitting at his locker, computer on his lap, going over some of his custom-designed parts. Bauer has had some pieces made by his personal 3-D printer, and has had others created and shipped to him.

Back in July, during one of Cleveland's trips to Kansas City, Bauer got one of his drones stuck in a tree in a park near the team's hotel. That led to a late-night rescue mission, which included some of the Royals' clubhouse workers using flashlights and a fishing pole to try to retrieve the pitcher's aerial device.

"I mean, I fly them hard," Bauer said. "I try to push my limits and learn new tricks, and fly closer to obstacles. So, I crash a lot. That's one of the things I'm most proud about. This one crashes really well and it doesn't break. Definitely a lot of adversity. I'm always fixing them, repairing them."

Bauer wore a small bandage on his injured pinkie Sunday, but will not be allowed to wear any kind of covering during tonight's start. If the wound opens and begins bleeding at all, the right-hander would be required to leave the game. Dr. Thomas Graham, a renowned hand specialist, is with the team in Toronto to monitor Bauer's progress.

"He's been getting treatment the whole time, almost like a pitcher with a blister," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I really don't think this is going to affect his start one way or another, whether he gets them out or doesn't, I don't think this is going to be a big deal."

This season, Bauer went 12-8 with a 4.26 ERA in 190 innings. While the pitcher's unique personality may have had him on an island in seasons' past, his performance this year went a long way in winning over his teammates. One of the biggest steps along those lines came July 1, when Bauer logged five shutout innings to close out a 19-inning win over the Blue Jays in Toronto.

Bauer put the team first, and that resonated around the locker room.


"The one really good thing," Francona said, "is that when it's time to pitch, he's ready, and he competes and he's not scared."

Bauer last pitched in Game 1 of the AL Division Series against the Red Sox, exiting after 4 2/3 solid innings because Francona wanted to lean on relief ace and the bullpen to nail down a 5-4 win. When the righty takes the mound at Rogers Centre tonight, he will do so after 10 unanticipated days of rest.

That was not Bauer's plan, and he felt terrible about the drone accident.

"Obviously, you feel bad," Bauer said. "It's just one of those things, a freak accident you can't really control. I've tried to maintain a positive attitude the whole time. Literally, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to pitch at some point in the series. I got pretty lucky."