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No awkwardness for Bauer in facing D-backs

No awkwardness for Bauer in facing D-backs play video for No awkwardness for Bauer in facing D-backs

CLEVELAND -- It could have been an awkward encounter for Trevor Bauer. He was en route to the clubhouse on Wednesday afternoon when he walked by a small pack of Arizona players also arriving at Progressive Field.

Catcher Miguel Montero -- a vocal critic of Bauer during and after their brief time together in Arizona -- was among the group. But rather than put his head down, Bauer decided it was best to greet his former teammates.

"I said, 'Hey, how are you doing, guys?'" Bauer said. "He's the only one that said, 'Hi, how are you doing?' So I don't think there's bad blood toward me on his end. And there's certainly none toward him on my end."

Then, in Game 1 of Wednesday's doubleheader, Bauer put that history to the side and delivered eight strong innings. He did not get a win, but his effort laid the groundwork for a 3-2 victory that helped the Tribe earn a split of the twin bill in Cleveland following its 1-0 loss in the nightcap.

This was the first meeting between the 23-year-old Bauer and Arizona, which took him in the first round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. He ascended to the big leagues by 2012, but his unconventional training methods rubbed people in the desert the wrong way, especially after his four starts with the D-backs went mostly awry.

"For some reason, I feel like he just felt like everybody was against him," Montero told reporters this week. "That wasn't the point. We were on his team. We wanted him to be good for our team."

In December 2012, the D-backs shipped Bauer to the Indians in a three-team, nine-player trade shortly after the Winter Meetings. Two years later he has made dramatic changes to his delivery, found a comfort level and is a stable part of the rotation.

Bauer said he no longer has an emotional reaction to seeing the D-backs.

"That was two years ago," he said. "I've long since moved on from that. To me it's just another team. Nine more hitters to try to get out. That's it. There's no bad blood between me and them or anything like that. I moved on from it a long time ago."

Bauer (4-7 with a 4.35 ERA in 18 starts) certainly looked free of distractions on Wednesday, when he struck out nine, walked two and scattered four hits in his 111-pitch outing. He carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before flinching, and the only two runs he relinquished came via groundouts.

Bauer downplayed the idea that facing Arizona gave him extra incentive to perform well, but manager Terry Francona did not rule it out.

"I just thought he did a really good job with it," Francona said. "I know there's some history there. I think he was a little extra amped up, but he used it in a way where he stayed under control. He didn't just go out and throw. He went out and pitched really well."

As for the much-anticipated clash with Montero, the catcher went 1-for-3 against Bauer. Bauer got the best of Montero with a three-pitch strikeout in the first inning, then induced a groundout in the fifth. In the seventh, Bauer hung a curveball, and Montero came through with a check-swing double down the left-field line.

After the seventh inning concluded, Bauer and Montero crossed paths on the field.

"I said, 'Nice piece of hitting,'" Bauer said. "It's not that I want to let him know there is hard feelings or isn't hard feelings. There's nothing there. So it's just one of those things where, in a game, we were walking off, we were right next to each other. I do that from time to time, not just with him."

Bauer has clearly moved on.

And he has found a home and consistent role in Cleveland.

"I feel a lot more comfortable up here now, knowing that it's not just one start," he said, "and knowing that I have pitched well enough that one bad outing isn't going to be a decision-maker. Obviously, I can't continue having bad outings.

"But being around the team, interacting with people, the routines, getting to know a little bit of the culture of the clubhouse, and different personalities of coaches and players and the staff that's around, it makes for a much more enjoyable experience."

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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