Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ten Stitches and Pouring Blood Don't Stop Trevor Bauer

Trevor Bauer is a starting pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, and he is not fazed by blood pouring from his finger. He was ready to pitch on October 17 against Toronto in the American League Championship Series, as expected. What was not expected was that several days before, he suffered a gruesome gash on the little finger of his pitching hand.
Most of us would take a few days off from work after sustaining a cut requiring ten stitches. Not Bauer. He is one of those people who tends to exceed expectations. He missed his scheduled start on Saturday the 15th because of the injury, and he figured two days of rest were enough for him.
Bauer showed up Monday night ready to pitch, even though Cleveland Manager Terry Francona and others were skeptical when they saw his hand. Bauer is like most other big league pitchers in that they tend to feel as though they and only they can properly handle the job. This guy was not about to miss another start, especially in the ALCS, where a trip to the World Series is at stake.

Even when the stitches broke and blood began spilling from his hand, Bauer tried to finish the job. When he realized his finger was bleeding profusely, he tried to hide it. The Indians wore dark blue jerseys that night, and Bauer held his dripping finger to his shirt, hoping no one would notice the gusher.
To his dismay, people did notice. Francona, the umpires, Toronto manager John Gibbons, and the television cameras saw it. A meeting on the mound ensued, and home plate umpire Brian Gorman said, according to a Jeff Passan (MLB columnist for Yahoo Sports) story:
"That's a lot of blood."

Bauer shouted an unprintable word, because he knew he would be forced to leave the game. He had thrown 21 pitches and recorded two outs in the first inning; not the way he or the Indians envisioned the game would go. Fortunately for the Indians, what might have been a disaster turned out to be a winning combination of seven pitchers doing just about everything right and ending up with a Cleveland win.
As if that wasn't remarkable enough, the next day, news broke from Passan and others that Bauer had wanted to cauterize the wound with a soldering iron.
"I even had a soldering iron in my hotel room," Bauer said in the Passan story. "Instead of going to the ER, I probably should’ve sealed it closed myself."
According to the story, Bauer wanted the Cleveland training staff to do it for him when he got to the stadium. He asked them to "burn shut the wound."
You might want to sit and ponder that for a moment, like I did. It's not quite as extreme as hiker Aron Ralston cutting off his own forearm after being trapped by an 800-pound rock. It is, however, about a man who was willing to endure what would have been excruciating pain, having someone burn his flesh to close the wound.
Maybe it seems a little crazy, but in my view, that is as committed as it gets. Bauer was willing to go to an extreme to get ready to make his scheduled start. The whole incident produced a lasting image: Bauer on the mound, ready to throw a pitch, with blood dripping steadily from his hand. And, how pissed off he was when he knew he would not be allowed to continue to pitch.
If I were a big league manager, this is the guy I want on my team when the season is on the line, and I need a hard-nosed, fearless pitcher who refuses to quit, no matter the circumstances. I want the guy who wants to burn that thing closed and is ready to play even while donating a significant amount of blood.
"Sometimes the circumstances aren’t in your favor," said Bauer in this October 18 New York Times story by David Waldstein,"and good teams find a way to overcome them and find a way to win."
That guy, that winner, is Trevor Bauer.
Larry Manch is an author, teacher, guitar player, freelance writer, and columnist. His books include: 'The Toughest Hundred Dollars & Other Rock & Roll Stories', 'A Sports Junkie', 'The Avery Appointment', 'Between the Fuzzy Parts'.

He also writes about baseball for Climbing Tal's Hill, food and travel on Miles & Meals, and music/guitars on The Backbeat.

He lives in Central Texas with his wife and family.

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