Trevor Bauer of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws the first pitch of the game against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium on June 28, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. The former first roudn pick is now pitching in Japan. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
By Conor LIguori
World Baseball Network
Trevor Bauer made his Japanese baseball debut on Sunday with the minor league affiliate of the Yokohama DeNA BayStars. It had been over two years since the former Cy Young Award winner pitched in a competitive baseball game. Nonetheless, Bauer felt comfortable out on the mound.
“I thought the day went really well,” Bauer told reporters following the game. “The stuff was good, the command was good, the health was good, I feel like I’m ready to compete now, but I have to build my pitch count.”
Bauer threw four scoreless innings, allowed four hits, and struck out six in his debut, and hundreds of fans lined up early outside the stadium to watch him pitch. Thousands of others viewed the game on the team’s streaming website. Bauer gave the fans some flare right off the bat, doing his famous sword celebration after recording a strikeout in the first inning.
Bauer signed a one-year contract with the Yokohoma DeNA Baystars in March, after being served a 324- game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence and sexual assault policy. The suspension was dropped to 194 games by an arbitrator this past December. A month later, Bauer was released by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Drafted third overall by the Arizona DiamondBacks in 2011 after playing one season of college baseball at UCLA, Bauer pitched 10 MLB seasons with Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Los Angeles, posting a 3.97 ERA in 222 appearances with 1297.2 innings of work.
Bauer is looking to get his fastball up to 96 mph, and that’s the reason he decided to wear jersey number 96. He also was overjoyed by the amount of support he received from the fans in Japan.
“In the United States, college games aren’t very big, so seeing that amount of passion, how many people come to a college game in Japan. It really struck me,” Bauer told reporters.
It is unclear when Bauer will make his major league Nippon Professional Baseball debut with the Yokohama DeNA BayStars. For now, he will stay with the Baystars minor league affiliate.