Trevor Bauer pitches vs. Dodgers prospects in exhibition game

Trevor Bauer pitches vs. Dodgers prospects in exhibition game

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Trevor Bauer‘s first time facing stateside professional hitters in nearly three years occurred on a backfield of the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ minor league complex Sunday afternoon while pitching for a barnstorming, pay-to-play team called the Asian Breeze.

Bauer, once handed the longest suspension in the history of Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy, pitched three scoreless innings against a lineup of Dodgers minor leaguers, some of them well-regarded prospects.

Later, Bauer, 33, lamented not getting another opportunity in the major leagues.

“I mean, if you think about it, I should have the opportunity to sign with a big league team,” Bauer told a scrum of media members shortly after his outing. “I’m just asking for the league minimum, so it’s not a money thing. I’ve served my suspension twice over. I’ve been cleared of everything in the legal system. If you think about it logically, there’s really no reason I shouldn’t have a job. But I don’t. So it is what it is. We’ll see how it plays out. I don’t want to predict the future. We’ll see.”

MLB handed Bauer an unprecedented 324-game suspension in April 2022, nearly 10 months after he was first placed on administrative leave over sexual assault allegations. An independent arbitrator, retained by both MLB and the MLB Players Association, reduced Bauer’s suspension to 194 games near the end of that year, prompting his eventual release from the Dodgers.

Bauer spent the 2023 season pitching for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars in Japan after receiving no interest from major league teams. He has publicly pined for another opportunity on several platforms this offseason, saying he would be willing to pitch for the major league minimum. Teams have thus far passed on him again.

Bauer’s latest venture came with a tryout team made up of mostly amateur players hoping to be seen in front of scouts.

It’s as close as Bauer has been to major league action in nearly 33 months.

More than a hundred fans packed a small set of bleachers and stood against the backstop as Bauer faced a Dodgers lineup sprinkled with prominent prospects, such as Andy Pages, Diego Cartaya and Hunter Feduccia. At least a handful of the fans were wearing Bauer jerseys and “Bring Bauer Back” T-shirts.

There did not appear to be any major league scouts present, but many of the fans cheered Bauer as he recorded four strikeouts against 12 batters. The biggest cheer came after his last out, when he accepted pitch suggestions from a nearby fan and retired Feduccia on a comebacker.

Bauer said the Asian Breeze recently reached out to him because the team needed pitching, and he agreed to participate. He was originally supposed to pitch Saturday in a game at the Arizona Diamondbacks‘ complex.

“I guess that got pushed back,” said Bauer, currently scheduled to pitch only one game for the Breeze. “It ended up being here.”

The Dodgers canceled Bauer’s bobblehead giveaway and stopped selling his merchandise less than a month after assault allegations were made public and have completely disassociated themselves from him in the wake of his release, cutting ties in 2023 despite owing him a remaining $22.5 million on his deal. But the team did not attempt to cancel the Asian Breeze game despite his presence at its facility, fearful that doing so would only draw more attention to it, sources said.

A source close to Bauer said he cleared it with Dodgers leaders and was told they didn’t have an issue.

“I don’t really care who I pitch against, honestly,” Bauer said when asked how it felt to face a Dodgers-affiliated team. “I just like to pitch. Hopefully, they enjoyed it and had a good time. I tried to enjoy it and have a good time, tried to entertain the fans, which is what I always try to do. Dodgers or any other team, it doesn’t really matter. I just enjoy pitching.”

Bauer signed a three-year, $102 million contract with the Dodgers in February 2021 but didn’t pitch beyond June of that year, after a San Diego woman obtained a temporary restraining order and accused him of sexually assaulting her. Bauer continually claimed his innocence and obtained two legal victories along the way, first when a Los Angeles judge denied the woman’s request for a permanent restraining order and later when the district attorney’s office declined to file criminal charges.

In October 2023, Bauer posted a nearly four-minute YouTube clip in which he rereleased a selfie video from the woman that showed her lying next to him in bed “smirking at the camera without … any mark on her face,” along with text messages that, according to Bauer, show she attempted to extort him.

The video, however, was not new. It was reviewed extensively by the independent arbitrator who ultimately chose to uphold the majority of Bauer’s unprecedented suspension, The Washington Post reported. Three other women have publicly made similar sexual assault allegations against Bauer, two through The Post and another through an amended complaint filed in June 2023. Bauer has also denied wrongdoing in those cases.

Details of MLB’s investigation and the subsequent arbitration process have not been made public. The domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy, in place since August 2015, stipulates that the details of an investigation not be disclosed, not even to the team that employs the player. The Dodgers theoretically released Bauer without knowing the extent of the allegations against him, outside of what had been made public from both sides.

Bauer — a first-round draft pick in 2011, an All-Star in 2018 and the National League Cy Young Award winner for the COVID-19-shortened season in 2020 — said he “just wanted to come out and have some fun playing baseball.” He noted that he set a personal high for velocity in Japan last year and has since added a splitter.

“I’m a better pitcher than I was last time people here saw me,” he said. “Hopefully, today reminded them that I’m still an elite pitcher. If not, that’s fine, too.”

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