The Los Angeles Dodgers are fresh off their World Series ring ceremony and home opener, which featured a narrow 1-0 win over the Washington Nationals, but all isn’t exactly “well” with the team at the moment.
Mookie Betts is day-to-day with a back issue. Cody Bellinger just hit the injured list after being cleated in the calf this week. It’s unclear when Joe Kelly and Brusdar Graterol will return.
And, of course, a number of baseballs from Trevor Bauer’s most recent start are being investigated by MLB.
But one could argue that last bit has been blown out of proportion.
The league announced recently that it’d be cracking down on pitchers’ use of substances on baseballs, which, while used for good causes like improving accuracy, has largely been abused to increase spin rate.
That was the belief in Houston when the Astros were said to be “doctoring baseballs,” which was criticized by Bauer, who then turned around and had a league-leading spin rate on his fastball in 2020, which helped him win the NL Cy Young award. That seemingly put a target on his back, and manager Dave Roberts feels his guy is being singled out.
MLB’s memo that was sent to the teams reads as follows:
"“They will prioritize baseballs that contain potential evidence of a foreign substance but also will randomly select balls to ensure full coverage.”"
For all anyone knows, the balls taken from Bauer’s most recent start on Wednesday against the Oakland Athletics could’ve been a random occurrence, but the fact that report leaked while we’ve yet to hear about any other instance sure seems fishy … and, of course, unfair to Bauer.
Despite all that, it’s refreshing to see Roberts has Bauer’s back. The right-hander certainly doesn’t help himself with the league since he’s constantly speaking out against commissioner Rob Manfred, but it constantly feels like he’s a lone wolf with hardly anyone in his corner (aside from his agent).
Now, we’ve seen a story big enough that affects Bauer and his team, so he’s getting the necessary support. This pales in contrast to how he was treated in Cleveland, when the Indians traded him shortly after his outburst on the mound during a game against the Kansas City Royals.
And we have to say: seeing an eloquent response from the manager backing his player is a lot more comforting than for fans than said player spewing his responses to the subject on social media. Bauer has every right to express if he feels he’s being mistreated, but his way of doing it certainly doesn’t come off the right way in the eyes of the average fan.
A calm, collected and stern statement from his manager is exactly what’s needed, especially all that Bauer’s gone through up until this point in his career.