Former Cy Young Winner Trevor Bauer Effective In First Start in Nippon Professional Baseball

Former Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer poses for photographers in his new DeNA BayStars uniform during an introductory press conference in Yokohama, near Tokyo, on March 24, 2023. Bauer, who was suspended by Major League Baseball in 2022 following allegations of sexual assault, has signed a one-year deal with DeNA. He earned the win in his first start in Japan’s top league Wednesday (Photo by Kyodo News via Getty Images)

By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network

Trevor Bauer, a former ace with the Cleveland Guardians and the National League Cy Young Award winner with the Cincinnati Reds in 2020, returned to the mound on Wednesday in Japan for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars. 

Bauer was effective in his first start in Japan’s top league, striking out nine Hiroshima Carp hitters across seven innings. He allowed just one earned run, a home run to Matt Davidson, who was a teammate of his in Cincinnati. The Yokohama DeNA BayStars defeated the Hiroshima Carp 4-1, and Bauer was rewarded with the win. 

The stadium was packed with fans, but Bauer did not feel any pressure.

“I played in a World Series in 2016, and the Cleveland stadium was very loud,” Bauer told the Associated Press. “But the sustained energy here is just so much different.”

Bauer’s Major League Baseball career came to an abrupt stop in July of 2021 when he was placed on administrative leave. A woman from San Diego told police that multiple sexual encounters she had with Bauer turned violent. Bauer denied all allegations, and the case was dismissed after little to no evidence was found. Bauer was suspended 324 games by the MLB for violating the league’s domestic violence and sexual assault policy, but the suspension was reduced to 194 games by an arbitrator last December. 

The Los Angeles Dodgers released Bauer in January, but the organization still owes him $22.5 million for the 2023 season. Bauer was available to sign with any MLB organization for the league minimum in 2023, but no team pulled the trigger. 

Bauer signed a one-year, $4 million dollar deal with Yokohama during the offseason, and he needed little time for his arm to be in shape after not pitching in game action since June 28, 2021. His final pitch count on Wednesday was 93, and he looked comfortable. 

“I felt great,” Bauer told reporters. “I just felt normal. The body felt good; command, velocity, results. All good. It was a great day.” 

Despite his sexual assault allegations and suspension from the MLB in the United States, Bauer has gained celebrity status in Japan. One local department store even made posters of him with his name on it. 

 “It’s very cool, very cool,” Bauer said, sharing a laugh with reporters. “Growing up as a kid you see professional athletes and movie stars on billboards like that; kind of cool for me to be there myself.” 

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