Velocity an issue for Bauer, but not team

Righty focusing on pitch speed; Francona, Callaway say he's fine

Velocity an issue for Bauer, but not team

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Unsatisfied with his average pitch speed last year, Indians starter Trevor Bauer spent much of his offseason focused on velocity training. The work over the winter has carried over into the spring, but Cleveland does not think the issue is of great importance at the moment.

During a four-inning Minor League appearance on Friday, Bauer showed improvement with his cutter and curveball, according to Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway. Discussing the outing on Saturday afternoon, Callaway was also quick to note that the pitcher was still trying to reach back for more velocity on his fastball.

Indians Spring Training info

Callaway said Bauer's pitch speed is already at an acceptable level.

"He's [one of the hardest] throwers in the big leagues right now, and he's trying to throw harder," Callaway said. "He's been at 95-96 [mph], but he's not happy with that. He's still a little focused on velocity, but that's where his focus was over the offseason."

60 seconds with Bauer

Asked if Bauer's velocity was a top priority, manager Terry Francona was ready with a succinct three-word reply.

"Not for me," said the manager.

According to PITCHf/x data compiled by brooksbaseball.net, Bauer averaged 93.7 mph on his four-seam fastball and 93.6 mph on his two-seamer last season. Those marks were down from 94.9 mph and 91.5 mph, respectively, in the 2014 season.

After focusing on command two offseasons ago, Bauer wanted to dedicate this past winter to improving the speed of his fastball.

"Mostly it was just become a more efficient thrower and work on my velocity development," Bauer said earlier this spring. "My velocity was too low last year. I actually felt like I commanded the ball fine, even though my walk numbers don't support that. I don't feel like that's necessarily a problem. I worked on it. I work on everything."

Last season, Bauer led the American League with 79 walks in his 176 innings, averaging four walks per nine innings, compared to 3.5 in '14. Callaway noted that he has seen the right-hander alter his approach with his fastball this spring in an effort to work on that issue. The pitching coach said Bauer has tried to focus more on locating his fastball down and away -- something the Indians wanted to see more last year.

In Friday's outing against the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate, Bauer walked two and struck out two, allowing one run on one hit in his four innings. In the Minor League setting, the starter was able to concentrate a lot on his cutter and curve, and Callaway was impressed with both of those pitches.

"He was able to throw his curveball for strikes," Callaway said. "It seems like he's got a little bit more of a feel to throw it in the zone this year, instead of just bouncing it. So, he did a really good job with that. And he threw some really good cutters. And I do see an approach that's different than last year. All in all, it's been better. That's encouraging."

And Bauer's velocity, as far as Francona and Callaway are concerned, is not a problem.

"He's still kind of caught up in the velocity," Francona said. "I think the ball's coming out of his hand just fine."

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.