3/9/2014 5:29 P.M. ET
Francona sees Bauer putting it together
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians were willing to exercise extreme patience with pitching prospect Trevor Bauer last season due to his potential as a rotation cornerstone.
Bauer labored throughout the summer while implementing a series of mechanical adjustments, and Cleveland has had a chance to see the changes in action this spring. From what he has witnessed, Indians manager Terry Francona feels the organization took the proper approach with Bauer last year.
"You try to look at the big picture," Francona said on Sunday "I think with everything, you try to make decisions not based out of emotion, but based on what's best for our team. I think with a 23-year-old pitcher that the ceiling is very high, you have to step back sometimes and let him figure it out, certainly, with help.
"I think we're going to see dividends this year at some point. It may not be April 1, but at some point this year I think we'll see dividends, and once he gets here and figures it out, he's got a chance to be a dominating pitcher. That's the idea anyway."
Bauer was a key part of the three-team, nine-player trade that the Indians swung with the D-backs and Reds on Dec. 11, 2012. Cleveland knew at the time that the right-hander was undergoing changes to his delivery, but general manager Chris Antonetti has said in the past that the club may have "underestimated the magnitude" of the adjustments.
In his first season in Cleveland's system, Bauer went 6-7 with a 4.15 ERA in 22 starts, which included 106 strikeouts and 73 walks in 121 1/3 innings. In four spot starts with the Tribe, Bauer went 1-2 with a 5.29 ERA in 17 innings and had more walks (16) than strikeouts (11).
So far this spring, Bauer has compiled seven strikeouts and three walks in five Cactus League innings, but his delivery has looked less violent than last year. In a recent outing, Bauer was also clocked at 98 mph on one of his pitches. While the right-hander is hardly a finished product, Francona said the early results have been encouraging.
"I think he's pretty comfortable in his delivery," Francona said. "You see him going out there now attacking more -- not feeling for his delivery. I think he hit 97-98 [mph]. That's not the end all, and that's not the goal, but it does show that he's got life in his arm. To be able to hit that velocity, you've got to feel good.
"It might be a baby step, but it's a step. Sometimes, that's good enough. And then, one thing leads to another and another and, if you keep doing that, at some point we'll see him here and it'll come together."
Tomlin among Tribe arms saved by Dr. Jobe
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It is not hard to see Dr. Frank Jobe's legacy around the game. Go to any Major League camp, simply scan the elbows of the pitchers on hand, and the scar from Tommy John surgery is easily spotted on numerous players.
At Cleveland's complex, at least 13 players in big league camp have undergone the operation that Jobe first performed on Tommy John back in 1974. Jobe passed away on Thursday at the age of 88, but he will hardly be forgotten in baseball, especially by the pitchers whose careers have been saved by the famous surgery.
"I definitely know his work," Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin said with a smile. "I was sad to see that [Jobe died]. That's a huge legacy to leave behind. What he did, he basically revolutionized the game for guys that have injuries. It's not career ending anymore."
Tomlin is one of 12 Indians pitchers in camp this spring (out of 33) who have had Tommy John surgery. Others on that list include closer John Axford, starters Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco, and relievers Josh Outman, Vinnie Pestano and Frank Herrmann. Infielder Mike Aviles also underwent the ligament-replacement procedure.
Axford, who had his operation in November 2004, said it is hard to imagine being in the position of Tommy John at the time of the first surgery. These days, the surgery and subsequent rehab is practically down to a science, making elbow injuries less career-threatening.
"I would have to see the breakdown of what was actually presented [by Jobe]," Axford said "It's been 10 years ago for mine, and I'm even trying to think of the presentation of when they were telling me what they were going to do. Trying to understand it for the first time, I'm sure it's got to be crazy to think about."
Tomlin agreed with Axford's comments.
"I can't imagine being in that position," said Tomlin, who had his surgery in August 2012. "But I also can imagine being Tommy John, where it's hard not to listen to something like that, because that's the only option you have. For both of those guys to actually come out and do that, and revolutionize what Tommy John surgery is today, it's pretty special."
Indians add 'B' games to give pitchers work
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The pitching schedule that hangs just inside the clubhouse doors at the Indians' Spring Training complex has been a fluid list of late. There have been daily changes as pitching coach Mickey Callaway and bullpen coach Kevin Cash have tried to properly distribute innings.
"That's not an easy thing to do," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Mickey and Cashy, every morning, are in there trying to strike the right balance with everybody."
To help spread the work among the 33 pitchers in camp in the coming week, the Indians will have a "B" game against the White Sox at 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday morning at Cleveland's complex. On Thursday, the Indians will have an abbreviated intrasquad game in the morning, and the team will have some pitchers throw in Minor League games this week, too.
Aaron Harang (three innings), Tyler Cloyd (two), Nick Hagadone, Mike Zagurski, J.C. Ramirez and Scott Atchison are currently penciled in to pitch in Tuesday's "B" game against Chicago. Thursday's intrasquad game will feature Carlos Carrasco (four), T.J. House (three), Travis Banwart (two), Colt Hynes and Ramirez.
The Indians plan on having Danny Salazar (three innings) and setup man Cody Allen pitch in a Minor League game on Friday. On Saturday, Trevor Bauer (four) and Cloyd (three) are slated to throw on the Minors side, while right-hander Frank Herrmann will start to kick off a "bullpen day" that will feature nine relievers in the Cactus League game against the D-backs.
"When we added Aaron [Harang] to our camp," Francona said, "we knew we were going to have to do some mixing and matching. And we really want to try to see the relievers and not just in the eighth and ninth innings. So to do that, you've got to be a little creative."
Quote to note
"It's huge. You can look around all through camp and you see elbow scars on a lot of guys. It's something that you don't necessarily want, but you know it's a surgery that has a very good positive outcome for a lot of people."
-- Indians closer John Axford, on Tommy John surgery pioneer Dr. Frank Jobe's legacy
• Non-roster invitee Elliot Johnson has hit .375 (6-for-16) with one home run, two triples and five RBIs through six games with the Indians this spring. Francona said Johnson's offensive production will not be the determining factor when the time comes to decide whether to carry the versatile player on the Opening Day roster.
"It's really not [that important]," Francona said. "I don't know that if Elliot was 0-for-10, we would view him any different than if he's 3-for-10 or 4-for-10. And when you really think about it, what he's done in his career, what he's capable of doing and how he can benefit our team, is what really makes sense. Guys tend to catch your eye or other peoples' eyes when they get hits."
• Indians utility man Ryan Raburn bruised his left knee while crashing into the right-field wall at Cubs Park during Friday's 7-2 win over Chicago. Raburn was held out of the lineup on Saturday and Sunday, but might be cleared to return to game action on Monday, according to Francona.
"We'll see," Francona said. "We kind of reserve the right to change that, but I think he'll play [Monday]."
• The Indians will have Major League Baseball's new instant-replay system available for Monday's 4:05 p.m. ET Cactus League game against the Angels at Goodyear Ballpark. It will be the first of five games this spring during which replay challenges will be available. Cleveland will also have replay on Friday (at White Sox), March 16 (at Cubs), March 17 (at Reds) and March 24 (at Reds).
• Heading into Sunday's game with the Brewers, the Indians led the Major Leagues this spring in ERA (2.77) and WHIP (1.05), as well as opponents' average (.207), on-base percentage (.264) and slugging percentage (.325). Cleveland also boasted a 3.46 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The Tribe had 27 strikeouts and no walks in its past 19 innings (two games).
• Indians right-hander Danny Salazar is scheduled to make his Cactus League debut against the Angels on Monday. Following that two-inning appearance, the righty is slated to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday leading up to a three-inning outing in a Minor League game on Friday.