Yokohama, Japan – Welcomed by the fans and having received the biggest ovation of any Yokohama player at the start of the game, Trevor Bauer delivered what was expected in his debut for the Yokohama Dina Baystars.
Bauer on Wednesday made his first official game in just over 22 months after he was released by the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this year following allegations of sexual assault and domestic violence.
He struck out seven hits in seven innings, allowed one run, struck out nine and threw 98 pitches in a 4-1 win over the Hiroshima Toyo Carp before a crowd of 33,202, which the team said was a record.
Perhaps the highlight was Bauer’s beating.
Pitchers are still batters in the J. Central League, where a designated hitter is not used. Bauer made one groundout and threw a perfect sacrifice bunt in the fifth, setting up a Yokohama kickoff. He also hit.
The only blemish was a ruleless run in the second inning by compatriot Matt Davidson, who along with Bauer played for the Cincinnati Reds in 2020.
“My former teammate really took over me,” Bauer said. “I don’t know how far it went. I talked to him before his next appointment, and I said, ‘Why do you have to do that to me?'” “
Bauer’s first game was long awaited in Yokohama, which had not won a Japanese season championship since 1998. Bauer is expected to make a splash with the team that now leads the Central League.
“I felt great,” Bauer said. “I felt normal. The body felt good: drive, pace, results. Everything was fine. It was a great day.”
He even tried a few Japanese words to address the fans after the match. Roughly translated, he said: “I won in Yokohama.”
The fans immediately applauded and understood. He said his colleagues taught him.
“I have to make sure they don’t tell me to say something wrong,” Bauer said.
Japanese reporters asked Bauer what he was thinking right before the match. His response indicated that he was feeling some pressure.
“My nose started to bleed,” he said. “That’s what I had in mind when I came to the field.”
Yokohama signed Bauer for $4 million, and he also took millions more in severance pay from the Dodgers.
Billboards across the city announced his arrival, including a seven-story poster hoisted Wednesday on the side of a Yokohama store.
Bauer arrives with a baseball background 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 an arbitrator reduced his 324-game suspension to 194 games for violating MLB’s domestic violence and sexual assault policy and the Players Association.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Bauer in April 2022 after a San Diego woman said he beat and sexually assaulted her in 2021. Bauer has disputed her allegations and said everything that happened between them was consensual.
He was never charged with a crime, and a California judge found the woman’s allegations “materially misleading.”
Bauer could have joined any MLB team for the season, but no team signed him.
“The atmosphere in the States doesn’t compare at all here. The only time you get anywhere near it is sometimes at a baseball game. I played in the World Series in 2016, and Cleveland Stadium was very noisy. But the sustainable energy here is very different.”
Trevor Bauer, on playing in Japan
Bauer, as he had done before, praised the atmosphere of Japanese stadiums, where a constant noise of chants, songs and drumming reigns supreme with the ever-engaged crowd.
“The atmosphere in the United States is absolutely incomparable here,” Bauer said. “The only time you get anywhere close is sometimes at a baseball game. I played in the World Series in 2016, and Cleveland Stadium was so noisy. But the sustained energy here is very different.”
His debut came after three games with the Yokohama farm clubs, where he had 17 strikeouts in 16 innings pitched with a 2.25 ERA.
He has been welcomed by Japanese fans, people have not organized a protest against his existence, and he is given the benefit of the doubt. For his part, Bauer talks about every aspect of playing in Japan.
“I just want to win,” Bauer said. “I want to contribute to that. I want to put on a good show. I want to entertain the crowd.”
Shuhei Horikawa, a Yokohama fan, stood inside Yokohama Stadium and summed up what many in Japan seem to be feeling.
“I know he had some problems in the past, but he wasn’t found guilty,” Horikawa said, wearing Power’s No. 96 jersey. “I want him to reset himself in Japan without any prejudice and do the best he can.”