CLEVELAND — Terry Francona said Trevor Bauer is good to go for Game 2 of the World Series. Bauer said the same.
Of course, both quickly mentioned during separate news conferences before Game 1 Tuesday night that they’ve had that feeling before and it didn’t exactly work out.
The Indians’ 25-year-old righthander suffered a laceration on his right pinkie that required 10 stitches the morning of his scheduled start in Game 2 of the ALCS against Toronto. So he had his start pushed back to Game 3. Although the finger didn’t give him trouble during throwing sessions leading up to that game, it didn’t take long for it to spring a major leak, forcing him to exit after two-thirds of an inning.
“Going into Toronto, the doctors told me they were confident it would be OK, I was confident it would be fine,” Bauer said. “It hadn’t bled the two days before that at all.”
It hasn’t in the last week, Bauer said, including early Monday evening when he threw a simulated game.
“I threw about 20 pitches, threw it with max intent, just like in a game, as close to game intensity as I could possibly get to,” he said. “There’s no pain, no blood. I was able to execute all my pitches to a high level, and I’m really encouraged by it. I feel like I’m on a regular preparation for my start tomorrow.”
Bauer went 12-8 with a 4.26 ERA this season and allowed three runs and six hits in 4 2⁄3 innings in Game 1 of the ALDS against Boston. He did throw with a small bandage on the finger Monday, something the rules will not allow him to do Wednesday night.
“That’s what the trainers told me to do,” Bauer said. “I think mostly they just wanted to check if it did bleed, to be able to see where it was bleeding from. Having a gauze strip under there allows you to see the bleeding pattern. We took it off and it was completely white, so it was a non-issue.”
Francona watched Monday’s session intently, looking for signs of trouble.
“I do think with the week in between and some extra work and things like that, he threw the ball pretty well and there was no blood,” Francona said. “He had it covered, but there was no blood on the inside. That thing’s wound up pretty tight there. And they’ve also learned a few things over the week that will help. I don’t think that finger’s going to be the reason he wins or loses.”
Francona joked about his belief Bauer’s finger will hold up.
“I was confident last week, and I said that I didn’t think the finger was going to get in the way, and I’m going to say the same thing again this week,” the manager said. “And if it doesn’t work, I’m going to make the doctor come up here and talk to you guys.”
If it doesn’t work, Francona will have to adjust on the fly again. In that Game 3 against the Blue Jays, six relievers combined to mostly slam the door in a 4-2 victory. Francona certainly would not want to tempt fate again, given how much he’ll likely have to rely on his bullpen for the Indians to have any chance to win this series.
Bauer not only expressed the utmost confidence in his finger’s ability to make it through the game, but also he came off as unaffected by the powerful Cubs lineup he’ll be facing, an obstacle even with a pinkie that didn’t have a gash in it.
“I’m not concerned about anything,” Bauer said. “They’re obviously very talented, but the Red Sox were very talented, and the Blue Jays are very talented, too. At the end of the day they’re just hitters. They get outs nine out of 10 times, like all the rest of them. It comes down to executing pitches, executing a game plan. There’s nothing I can do to change the outcome now. I’m prepared. I’m going to go out there and execute to the best level of my ability, and it’s going to be what it’s going to be.”