Bauer victorious in first professional game in 22 months

Bauer victorious in first professional game in 22 months

YOKOHAMA, Japan — After a warm welcome from cheerleaders and an early-game ovation of any Yokohama player, Trevor Bauer delivered what was expected in his debut with the Yokohama DeNA Baystars.

Bauer pitched his first official game in just over 22 months on Wednesday after the Los Angeles Dodgers fired him earlier this year following allegations of sexual assault and domestic violence.

He threw seven hits in seven innings, allowed one run, batted nine and pitched 98 pitches in a 4-1 win over the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in front of a crowd of 33,202, which the team said was a record.

The highlight might have been Bauer’s beating.

Pitchers still bat in the Japanese Central League, where the designated batsman is not used. Bauer hit the ground once and pulled off a perfect sacrificial brood in the fifth, leading to Yokohama’s go-ahead. He struck too.

The only pitching blemish was a home run with no bases in the second inning against fellow American Matt Davidson, who played with Bauer for the Cincinnati Reds in 2020.

“My ex-teammate caught me,” said Bauer. “I don’t know how far that went. I spoke to him before his next attack and I said, ‘Why do you have to do this to me?’”

Bauer’s first game was long-awaited in Yokohama, which has not won the Japan Season Championship since 1998. Bauer is expected to deliver with the team that now leads the Central League.

“I felt great,” said Bauer. “I just felt normal. The body felt good: command, speed, results. All good. It was a great day.”

He even tried a few words of Japanese and addressed the fans after the game. Roughly translated, he said, “I win in Yokohama.”

The fans applauded and understood immediately. He said teammates would teach him.

“I have to make sure they don’t tell me to say something wrong,” Bauer said.

Shortly before the game, Bauer was asked by Japanese reporters what he was thinking. His response indicated that he felt some pressure.

“My nose started bleeding,” he said. “That’s what I had in mind when I came onto the field.”

Yokohama has reportedly signed Bauer for $4 million, and he’s getting millions more in severance payments from the Dodgers.

Posters across the city announced his arrival, including a seven-story poster that hung on the side of a department store in Yokohama on Wednesday.

Bauer arrives as a 2020 Cy Young Award winner with a baseball background, while allegations of sexual assault and domestic violence kept him out of Major League Baseball for nearly two years.

He was released by the Dodgers this year after a referee reduced his ban from 324 games to 194 games for violating MLB and players’ union policies on domestic violence and sexual assault.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Bauer in April 2022 after a San Diego woman said he punched and sexually abused her in 2021. Bauer denied her claims and said everything that happened between them was consensual.

He was never charged with a crime, and a California judge found the woman’s claims “materially misleading.”

Bauer could have joined any MLB team for the season, but no team signed him.

“The atmosphere in the USA is not at all comparable to the one here. The only time she gets close is sometimes in playoff baseball. I played in a World Series in 2016 and Cleveland Stadium was very loud. But the sustained energy here is just so different.”

Trevor Bauer on playing in Japan

Bauer, as before, praised the atmosphere in Japan’s stadiums, where there is a constant din of chants, songs and drumbeats, with fans always participating.

“The atmosphere in the USA cannot be compared at all with the one here,” said Bauer. “The only time it comes close is sometimes in playoff baseball. I played in a World Series in 2016 and Cleveland Stadium was very loud. But the sustained energy here is just so different.”

His debut came after three appearances at Yokohama’s Farm Clubs, where he had 17 strikeouts in 16 innings with a 2.25 ERA.

Japanese fans have welcomed him, women have not organized to protest his presence and he is given the benefit of the doubt. For his part, Bauer addresses every aspect of gaming in Japan.

“I just want to win,” said Bauer. “I want to contribute to that. I want to serve well. I want to entertain the fans.”

Yokohama fan Shohei Horikawa stood at Yokohama Stadium and summed up what many in Japan seem to be feeling.

“I know he’s had some issues in the past, but he wasn’t convicted,” said Horikawa, who wore a No. 96 Bauer jersey. “I want him to sit back and do his best in Japan without prejudice.”

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Harper hitless in return but 'excited to be back'

Harper hitless in return but ‘excited to be back’


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