Associated Press4 minute read
YOKOHAMA, Japan — After the cheerleaders greeted him and after receiving the biggest ovation of any Yokohama player at the start of the game, Trevor Bauer delivered what was expected on his Yokohama DeNA Baystars debut. .
Bauer kicked off his first official game in just over 22 months on Wednesday after the Los Angeles Dodgers released him earlier this year following allegations of sexual assault and domestic violence.
He scatter seven hits in seven innings, allowed a run, struck out nine and threw 98 pitches in a 4-1 win over the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in front of a crowd of 33,202, which the team said , was a record.
The highlight could have been Bauer’s stick.
Pitchers always bat in the Japan Central League, where the designated hitter is not used. Bauer pulled out once and made a perfect sacrifice in the fifth, which led to Yokohama kicking off. He also knocked.
The only pitching flaw was an empty second-inning home run against fellow American Matt Davidson, who played with Bauer with the Cincinnati Reds in 2020.
“My ex-teammate got me,” Bauer said. “I don’t know how far it got. I talked to him before his next fight, and I said, ‘Why do you have to do this to me?'”
Bauer’s debut game is long overdue in Yokohama, which has not won the Japanese season championship since 1998. Bauer is expected to deliver with the team that now leads the Central League.
“I felt good,” Bauer said. “I just felt normal. The body felt good: command, speed, results. Everything is fine. It was a great day.”
He even tried a few words of Japanese, addressing the fans after the game. Roughly translated, it said, “I win in Yokohama.”
Fans cheered and understood immediately. He said his teammates were teaching him.
“I have to make sure they don’t tell me to say something bad,” Bauer said.
Japanese reporters asked Bauer what he was thinking just before the game. His answer suggested that he felt some pressure.
“My nose started bleeding,” he said. “That’s what I had in mind coming onto the pitch.”
Yokohama signed Bauer for $4 million, and he’s getting millions more in severance pay from the Dodgers.
Billboards across the city announced his arrival, including a seven-story poster that was put up on the side of a Yokohama department store on Wednesday.
Bauer arrives with a baseball roster as the 2020 Cy Young Award winner, while allegations of sexual assault and domestic violence kept him out of Major League Baseball for nearly two years.
He was released by the Dodgers this year after a referee reduced his 324-game suspension to 194 games for violating MLB and players’ association domestic violence and sexual assault policy.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Bauer in April 2022 after a San Diego woman said he beat and sexually abused her in 2021. Bauer disputed his claims and said whatever happened passed between them was consensual.
He was never charged with a crime and a California judge ruled the woman’s claims “substantially misleading”.
Bauer could have joined any MLB team for this season, but no team signed him.
Bauer, as he has done before, praised the atmosphere of Japanese stadiums, where there is a constant din of chants, songs and beating drums with fans still taking part.
“The atmosphere in the United States is not at all comparable to the one here,” Bauer said. “The only time it comes close is sometimes in the playoffs. I played in a World Series in 2016, and Cleveland Stadium was very loud. But the sustained energy here is so different.”
His debut came after three appearances with Yokohama Farm Clubs, where he had 17 strikeouts in 16 innings with a 2.25 ERA.
The Japanese fans welcomed him, the women did not organize to protest his presence and he is given the benefit of the doubt. For his part, Bauer talks about all aspects of the game in Japan.
“I just want to win,” Bauer said. “I want to contribute to that. I want to pitch well. I want to entertain the fans.”
Yokohama fan Shohei Horikawa stood inside Yokohama Stadium and summed up how many in Japan are apparently feeling.
“I know he had problems in the past, but he hasn’t been convicted,” said Horikawa, wearing a No. 96 Bauer jersey. “I want him to relocate to Japan without any prejudice and let him do his best.”