Trevor Bauer already putting his stamp on the Dodgers-Padres rivalry
Bauer joined the Dodgers on a three-year, $102 million contract this winter. And the reigning NL Cy Young winner, who’s never been shy about mixing it up with players on the field – nor with fans online – threw himself into the rivalry with gusto on Saturday.
The right-hander started in on the Padres early in the day, asking if Manny Machado was in the lineup.
For reference, Machado has historically owned Bauer, going 10-for-17 against him with four home runs, and Bauer is very aware of it.
When the Padres did get around to posting their lineup, which did not include Machado or any of their key regulars, Bauer reacted by Tweeting "how sad," in Spanish.
Then, when the game got started, Bauer continued to approach the matchup with more than a little gamesmanship, pitching – at least some of the time – with his right eye closed. Why would he do such a thing? We’re glad you asked.
"I figured if they can’t score off me with one eye open, it’s going to be difficult to score off me with two eyes open," he said. "Just having a little bit of fun."
And it seems that he did. Bauer allowed two hits and a walk while striking out three in his three scoreless innings of work.
As with many things Bauer does, his actions rankled some. But Dodgers manager Dave Roberts professed not to be bothered by it. Roberts said he likes the way his new pitcher pushes boundaries on the mound, figuring out what works and what doesn’t.
Roberts even said he thought Bauer might have thrown one of his curveballs with both eyes closed.
"I don’t know," Roberts said. "There is a method to his madness."
"I think that’s how you improve," Bauer said. "You find a way to make yourself uncomfortable and get comfortable with it and do it again."
Trevor Bauer of the Los Angeles Dodgers jokes with Jurickson Profar of the San Diego Padres during the game at Camelback Ranch on March 6, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)
As for the Padres, they appeared to take it in stride. San Diego’s Jurickson Profar, who got a single off Bauer, had a playful exchange with the pitcher as the two left the mound following the first inning.
Said Bauer of the chat: "He just said, ‘It’s going to be fun to compete against you this year.’ I kind of laughed and said, ‘Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be fun."
After the game, Bauer posted one more playful shot at his new rivals, likening himself to Captain Jack Sparrow and the Padres to his prey.
Whether you view it all as merely having fun, pushing the envelope or going too far, one thing is certain – the regular season matchups will have much more intensity than an early-March Spring Training game. Especially when the Padres put the likes of Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., Wil Myers and Eric Hosmer in their lineup.
That’s when we’ll find out if Bauer is really ready.