Comments shed light on D-backs/Bauer issues
FEB 15, 2013 8:19a ET
How could the organization have soured on its prized prospect so soon? Why would it so aggressively attempt to part ways with a 21-year-old with the potential to become a staff ace?
There were hints at the time of the deal -- which netted them lesser-rated prospect Didi Gregorius -- that Bauer's independent streak and stubborn ways put off teammates and management, and this week, with the start of spring training, more of that is coming to light.
Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero had some critical words for his former teammate earlier this week on Phoenix radio station KTAR-AM: "When you get a guy like that and he thinks he has everything figured out, it's just tough to convince him to get on the same page with you.
"You just try to keep things simple for him, but he doesn't want it simple. He made it even harder."
Montero went on to say that the differences manifested themselves as far back as the start of spring training a year ago, when he tried to counsel Bauer on his rigorous warmup routine.
"He never wanted to listen," Montero said. "It's not like he wants to learn. He's got his way and it's tough to change it. ... Good luck, Carlos Santana."
Santana is Cleveland’s catcher.
This week came a new indication of Bauer's, shall we say, idiosyncrasies.
A rap song recorded by Bauer began making the rounds on the Internet. While some of the lyrics seemed to be in response to Montero's comments, the song, in fact, had been recorded in December. Still, it did provide another perspective on Bauer and another clue as to why the Diamondbacks might have felt the relationship beyond mending.
The chorus goes:
“You can say what you want
“You can hate till you drop
“But you don't know me
“You don't know me.”
Other lyrics include:
“Taking it all with a grain of salt …
“Pinning the tail on the donkeys …
“Rumors, I refuse to listen …
After the song began making the rounds, Montero was approached again Thursday for his reaction. He did not take the bait, saying he had moved on and wants to concentrate on the future.
Bauer took the same stance when told about Montero’s comments. Cleveland trains 20 miles west in Goodyear.
"I'm glad to live in a country like the United States where we can all say what we want and have freedom of speech. I appreciate all the guys who go overseas and fight for that freedom," Bauer told the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer. "I can't speak for him, but I play for the Cleveland Indians and it's 2013. That's where I'm focused."
D-backs players have been notably mute on the deal the first week of spring training, but reliever Brad Ziegler said the trade might have been in the best interest of all parties.
“There were a lot of things that happened (last year)," Ziegler said. "It was kind of unfortunate in the way it went down. But I think with the way things sat, it was probably a good split for both parties. It is good for the locker room, and it’s probably good for him to get away from it, because he would kind of had to do a lot of damage control when he came back this year. A lot less on his mind now, so he can just focus on pitching and getting people out.”
It is fair to say that Bauer’s unique approach and personality were tolerated but not particularly embraced in the clubhouse last season, although the players were willing to live and let live. Randy Johnson used to putt in the clubhouse before some of his starts.
But one of Bauer’s peculiarities – running over the top of the mound to fire a fastball with his first warmup pitch of each inning – was considered sophomoric. Montero suffered a bruised thumb when he leapt to catch one of those warmup pitches early last spring.
Bauer, the third player taken in the 2011 draft out of UCLA, had remarkable numbers in college and at two minor league levels last season, but his major league results were less flattering. He had trouble throwing strikes in three of his four starts.
Doubts arose as to how Bauer’s unique, elaborate pregame routine that included stretching, foul-pole-to-foul-pole long toss and a heated bullpen session would stand up in a schedule with him starting every fifth day instead of every seven, as was the case in college. Some believed his loss of velocity at the end of 2012 was proof.
In the end, the front office decided it could not wait to see if (a) Bauer would make an adjustment or (b) an adjustment would work.
And in an unrelated twist, it was learned this week that Gregorius, the D-backs' potential shortstop of the future, would miss most if not all of spring training with a strained elbow.