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Bauer focuses on things to come with Tribe

Young pitcher eager to move past former teammate Montero's recent criticism

Bauer focuses on things to come with Tribe

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Given the opportunity, Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer expresses gratitude for the D-backs giving him his first chance in the big leagues. Beyond that, the young pitcher would prefer not to keep delving into the conflicts that arose during his stint with Arizona last season.

D-backs catcher Miguel Montero, however, has once again raised the issue.

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During the D-backs' FanFest on Saturday, Montero criticized Bauer for being unwilling to listen or adapt during his time in the big leagues last season. On Tuesday, roughly 40 miles away from Arizona's spring site, Bauer stood at his locker inside Cleveland's clubhouse and again attempted to turn the page.

"It's 2013. That's all I'm focused on," Bauer said. "I try to take things day by day and focus on how I can improve myself and help my team. My team is the Indians. That's all I'm focused on."

The Indians acquired the 22-year-old Bauer as part of a three-team, nine-player trade involving the D-backs and Reds in December. Prying the highly touted prospect away from Arizona was an integral part within the deal, and gave Cleveland the kind of young impact starter that has been missing from the upper tier of its farm system.

Part of the reason Bauer became expendable for the D-backs was his personality, which rubbed members of the ballclub the wrong way. Bauer has a unique warmup routine based around an extreme form of long toss, and he tends to keep to himself in a clubhouse. During his introductory news conference with the Indians, he said he was simply trying to play the role of quiet rookie.

Maybe Bauer was misunderstood.

The way Montero saw things, the pitcher just was not willing to cooperate.

"He's just a tough guy to handle," Montero told MLB.com on Tuesday morning. "I wish him the best of luck, because I don't think he's a bad guy at all. He just needs to have a little bit more of an open mind."

Montero's advice to Bauer?

"Take the things that you think are going to help you," Montero said, "and if you don't think it's going to help you, don't take it. But a lot of people have been in the game longer than he has and have had a lot of success, and they just tried to teach him and help him be successful in his career."

"He made it harder on himself instead of relaxing and listening," Montero said later. "Obviously I wanted to help the guy. Like I said, he's not a bad guy, I've got nothing against him, I just wanted to help him if he wanted to be helped. Apparently he didn't want to be helped."

Asked for his reaction to the fact that Montero was still discussing last year's issues, Bauer chose a diplomatic response.

"That's the great thing about this country, the United States," Bauer said. "Anyone can say what they want -- free speech. I think it's awesome that he can come out to the papers and say what he wants. We have that freedom. I appreciate the men who go overseas and fight for us and die for us so we have that freedom."

Bauer -- a first-round pick (third overall) by Arizona in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft -- is in camp competing for a spot at the back end of Cleveland's rotation. Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Brett Myers will occupy the first three slots, with Zach McAllister, Carlos Carrasco and Bauer entering as the leading candidates for the final two jobs.

Others in the mix include Corey Kluber, Scott Kazmir and David Huff. The Indians also have an agreement in place to bring right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka to camp as a non-roster invitee, throwing him into the rotation mix as well.

Last season, Bauer went 12-2 with a 2.42 ERA in 22 starts between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno, piling up 157 strikeouts in 130 1/3 innings. The pitcher did not have as much success in four big league outings, going 1-2 with a 6.06 ERA over 16 1/3 innings, during which he had 17 strikeouts and 13 walks.

Bauer could draw positives from his time with Arizona.

"Everything that happens, I learn from it," Bauer said. "I take in the information, I process it. Some information I process quicker than other information. I try to get the most out of everything I do, [even if it's] a conversation with someone who's not even in baseball. I try to improve myself as a person, as a brother, as a son, whatever it may be in the future, whether it may be baseball related, or life. I try to take something out of every conversation I had.

"I learned stuff from my whole time with the Diamondbacks in general as an organization. I think it made me a better person and a better player, and I'm grateful for the opportunity they gave me. Now I'm focused on improving myself today and helping the Indians go out and win games."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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