Bauer adjusts in quest to earn rotation spot

Right-hander working on mechanical changes implemented in offseason

Bauer adjusts in quest to earn rotation spot

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Indians pitching prospect Trevor Bauer is attempting a delicate balancing act of altering his mechanics and trying to make the team's Opening Day rotation. It remains to be seen whether his changes will hurt his chances of cracking Cleveland's roster.

"That's not my decision," Bauer said after his latest outing on Wednesday. "I know the season starts in a couple weeks and I'm trying to get ready for it -- wherever I'm at. That's the only thing I can do, try to get ready for the season. That's what Spring Training is about."

During the Indians' 6-5 Cactus League loss to the Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium, Bauer allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits in just three innings. The right-hander was scheduled to log five frames, but a 33-pitch third inning combined with a long bottom half forced an early exit.

"We really weren't comfortable letting him go back out," Indians manager Terry Francona said.

Bauer -- up against Scott Kazmir, Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber for the fifth spot in the starting staff -- finished with 56 pitches, including 30 for strikes. The abbreviated outing and ongoing mechanical adjustments might lead to a trip to Triple-A Columbus to begin the season, but Cleveland has yet to tip its hand as to which way it is leaning.

Despite his pitching line, Bauer, ranked as the Tribe's No. 2 prospect, said he was happy with Wednesday's performance given his comfort level with his revamped delivery. The 22-year-old prospect -- acquired from Arizona as part of December's nine-player trade that also included the Reds -- added that he began implementing his mechanical changes over the offseason.

Part of Bauer's reason for changing is to hopefully avoid the kind of nagging groin injury he had last season throughout the Minors and during a four-start stint with the D-backs.

"There's a lot of different reasons," said Bauer, who went 12-2 with a 2.42 ERA in 22 starts between Double-A and Triple-A last season. "Command and health, among other things. I could talk for days on why I'm doing it, but that's stuff you guys aren't interested in hearing. I've been trying to do it all offseason. As soon as the season ended last year, I went to work on it, but I had some injuries that were leftover from last year.

"It's just been kind of tough getting to a place where I feel fully healthy where I can actually work on it. So coming into Spring Training, I finally feel fully healthy, but when you're trying to overwrite 10 years of neuromuscular programming in four or five weeks, that makes it a little bit tough."

Francona downplayed the changes Bauer is in the process of making.

"Guys are working on stuff all the time," Francona said. "I think he's trying to get to a point in his delivery where he's comfortable all the time. A lot of guys are like that. He's got some moving parts in that delivery, so he's just trying to get some consistency there."

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.