October 20, 2014

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Pitcher Trevor Bauer leaves Indians eager for his return

CLEVELAND — Trevor Bauer was optioned back to the minor leagues Thursday, but he isn’t expected to be there long.

Bauer

After watching their top pitching prospect over two hot-and-cold outings this season, the Indians are eager to see more from the quirky right-hander — the potential gem from a three-team trade with the Reds and Diamondbacks in the offseason.

“We’re looking to get excited, but that’s real stuff,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said Wednesday after Bauer tossed five shutout innings in a 6-0 win over the Phillies at Progressive Field. “And I think what goes under the radar is how much he competes — because he’s a quiet kid and doesn’t say much. But he really competes.”

That’s certainly been on display over Bauer’s two spot starts for the Indians. April 6 in Tampa Bay, Bauer, 22, walked the first four batters, but allowed just a run that inning.

He walked six batters and had runners on base all night Wednesday, but kept a respectable Philadelphia lineup off the board on just one hit, while striking out five.

It would appear that if Bauer, the third pick in the 2011 draft, is able to control his stuff, which includes a fastball in the low-90s and an assortment of top-shelf off-speed pitches, the ceiling is high.

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“The potential is there,” Mark Reynolds told reporters after playing third base Wednesday night. “But it’s frustrating playing behind him. He’s all over the place. It’s hard to find a rhythm, but he gets the job done. Hopefully he can harness what he has and be a little more consistent throwing strikes.

“That will come with time. He’s still young. Hopefully he gets a couple more chances up here to help us out.”

Bauer recognizes location is the key to his success — that and maintaining his focus on every pitch, not just once he finds himself in a jam.

“For whatever reason, I lock in more when there’s guys on base,” he said. “I’m a really competitive guy. I don’t like giving up runs. I need to do a better job of doing that when no one is on.

“I’m more comfortable. It’s like anything. Once you do it over and over again, it becomes comfortable.”

At least for the immediate future, Bauer is expected to remain at the Triple-A level while another young right-hander, Corey Kluber, fills in for the injured Brett Myers in Cleveland’s rotation.

But there was little certainty where the starting staff was concerned over the first month of the season. And Bauer could be back soon to attempt to find a comfort zone in the big leagues.

“With repetition, that’s when it gets really exciting,” Francona said, “because that’s when you’re going to start seeing consistency — and it’s going to be real good.”

Rockin’ Raburn

Ryan Raburn has reached rarified air.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, the utility man is one of just four players in the last 75 years to collect at least 11 hits and four homers over a three-game span. Raburn is 11-for-13 with four homers and nine RBIs.

Raburn joined Duke Snider (1955), Kirby Puckett (1987) and Shawn Green (2002).

Sorry, Charlie

Manager Charlie Manuel praised the Indians after his Phillies were swept. Manuel managed Cleveland from 2000-02.

“They took it to us pretty good,” said Manuel, whose pair of Cy Young starters, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, allowed a combined 13 runs and 18 hits in 14-2 and 6-0 losses. “They have a lot of energy and they’re playing good. They’re hot.”

Roundin’ third

  • With Bauer’s demotion, the Indians’ roster is at 24 players. They are expected to add a relief pitcher today.
  • Right-hander Blake Wood (reconstructive elbow surgery) will make his first professional appearance since 2011 when he takes the mound Saturday in a rehab outing for Double-A Akron. Wood, 27, was a key member of Kansas City’s bullpen from 2010-11, appearing in 106 games over the span. He was claimed off waivers in the offseason.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.