CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – The 2017 season has not always been easy for Trevor Bauer, though since mid-July, it may have appeared as such on the mound.
The right-hander has turned what was the worst ERA midway through the season into what will probably amount to Cy Young votes after the World Series. That potential accomplishment is even more impressive with a little more insight into the life of a 26-year old public figure dealing with a private matter.
There has always been a seeming misunderstanding of Bauer, whose quirks have gotten him into trouble in the past, whether it be a physical drone mishap or a misstep on Twitter. Those issues had perpetuated a narrative that Bauer was a poor teammate, with unconfirmed reports that a meeting between player and manager was held to address just that.
On Wednesday, Francona followed up an assessment of Bauer’s growth as a teammate that he had made on Sunday. Clarifying that he never intended to paint his pitcher as a ‘bad teammate’ to begin with, the manager said it seems as if Bauer is more ‘comfortable in his own skin.’
“He just has done a pretty good job of assimilating…in the clubhouse,” the skipper added.
The answer did leave a window of interpretation, again making it presumable that there was work to be done. Sure enough, the pitcher also seemed to confirm a change.
“I think, as far as like relating to teammates and staff and just club personnel, I feel like I’m more comfortable now given that I’ve been here for three, four years,” Bauer said. “So it usually takes me a couple years like that to kind of get comfortable with the situation and with my surroundings and the people I’m around and really kind of open up and feel like I’m okay to be myself and have other people understand that, when I say certain things or do certain things, like they understand how to interpret that.
“They don’t take it out of context, you know.”
Therein lies the point.
There is a certain amount of understanding needed in any situation, and Bauer’s case may have always been one where it is needed the most.
Throughout it all, Bauer was not just working on becoming a better teammate, he was fending off his own demons.
For the second time since Sunday, Bauer referenced that he was dealing with depression at the beginning of the season on Wednesday. His latest answer came when asked to respond to Terry Francona’s notion of personal growth this season.
“That’s a tough question for me to answer because the first half was miserable. I was depressed for the first month, month and a half of the season. I didn’t enjoy coming to the field,” Bauer said, before turning his attention back to the game. “Like, my numbers sucked. I didn’t feel like I was contributing to the team. So it was like I was on the team but didn’t feel like I was contributing, which is a terrible feeling for any competitor. You want to be one of the main guys out there with your teammates and contributing.”
Depression is hard enough to understand for most people, especially those who have never dealt with it first hand. There is a misconception that depression equals sadness, though if you speak with people who have dealt with it, the ailment is moreso a lack of feeling, an emptiness.
For many dealing with depression, they shut down completely. For Bauer, he has powered through. His performance has been the best of his career no doubt, but has also nullified the criticisms of Bauer the person.
The abrasive Bauer that was known for his short answers in interviews is gone, giving lengthy, insightful responses to reporters. Gone with that iteration of the man has been the pitcher’s struggles.