Bauer surrenders Papi's HR in first relief appearance

After making 30 starts last year, righty moved to bullpen

Bauer surrenders Papi's HR in first relief appearance

CLEVELAND -- The Indians had their reasons for pulling Trevor Bauer out of the rotation and putting him in the bullpen to begin this season. A few of those concerns were on display when the right-hander took the mound on Tuesday for his first relief appearance of the year.

In a 6-2 season-opening loss to the Red Sox, Bauer issued a leadoff walk and later surrendered a no-doubt, two-run home run to Boston slugger David Ortiz in the ninth inning. The righty's performance created a deeper hole for Cleveland in its attempts to mount a late comeback.

"Trevor looked like he tried to throw a back-door cutter," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "And it came all the way across the plate into David's swing."

Bauer was not in the locker room to speak with the media after the loss.

At the end of Spring Training, the Indians opted to put right-handers Cody Anderson and Josh Tomlin in final two spots in the rotation, pushing Bauer to the bullpen. It is the same alignment that Cleveland used late last season, when Bauer was struggling with consistency as a starter. When the book closed on his 2015 season, Bauer led the American League with 79 walks and posted a 4.55 ERA in 176 innings.

The 25-year-old Bauer still has plenty of potential as a starting pitcher, but Cleveland's concerns with his command issues are no secret. In the ninth, the right-hander walked Dustin Pedroia to start things off before striking out Xander Bogaerts. Ortiz followed by depositing a 2-2 cutter into the right-field seats for his 504th career home run.

"He did it at the end of last season," Francona said of Bauer being in the bullpen. "I thought the ball was coming out of his hand probably as good as anybody. It looked to me like almost every pitcher was down a couple clicks, because it was so cold. But he had real good arm speed. He just misfired on that pitch."

Tuesday's outing aside, Francona believes Bauer can eventually be a weapon in the bullpen.

"I think we can use [Bauer] really any way we want," Francona said. "Guys settle into roles a little bit as the season progresses, and the first month's always a little bit -- guys have to be patient. If he pitches like he can, he can be very valuable in any role."

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.