Bauer begins buildup to '16 with spring debut

Righty hopes to keep progressing with pitch speeds, work on two-seamer, cutter

Bauer begins buildup to '16 with spring debut

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Indians manager Terry Francona does not want Trevor Bauer to feel like he is under the microscope any more than any other member of the rotation. So when discussing the right-hander's preparation for the season, Francona preferred to answer in general terms on Friday morning.

"What we're trying to do is, when we talk about Trevor," Francona said, "is talk about the same things that we talk about with the other pitchers. I think that's an important step in his progression, and maybe even with us. Hey, let's value the things that he's doing and the other pitchers are doing equally, and not try to have him on a little bit of an island."

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As things currently stand, Bauer projects to be a part of a promising starting quarter that includes Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. Of those four pitchers, Bauer experienced the most inconsistency last season, though his showing in 2015 was the best campaign of the young righty's career.

During his Cactus League debut in Friday's 5-5 tie with the White Sox, Bauer began his buildup toward the 2016 season with a two-inning outing in which he gave up two runs on three hits, including a pair of home runs, at Camelback Ranch. He struck out two and walked none in his first official spring appearance.

Over the winter, Bauer concentrated on velocity training, and he said his main goal this spring is to continue to make progress with his pitch speeds. On Friday morning, Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway also noted that Bauer plans on using the next few weeks to focus on his two-seam sinker and cut fastball. Callaway said the goal for the cutter is to improve the late movement on the pitch.

"He's working on his two-seamer, which he threw more last year," Callaway said. "And we're also focusing on his cutter, which was kind of a slurvy pitch last season. He's thrown it a lot in bullpens, and it looks really good so far. It has better late break."

Against Chicago, Bauer estimated that he threw five or six cutters.

"It went good," Bauer said.

As for his mentality this spring, Bauer said having a job in the rotation has not altered his approach.

"I come into camp like I'm trying to get ready, like I have to win a job, every year," said Bauer, who went 11-12 with a 4.55 ERA and 170 strikeouts in 176 innings last season. "It's the same type of mentality I've always had."

For his first spring outing, Bauer said his goal was simple.

"Throw hard. Throw strikes. Be healthy," he said.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.