Trevor Bauer is making his triumphant return to Chase Field this week.
Well, sort of.
The right-handed pitcher, now a member of the Cleveland Indians, will not take the mound for either of the two interleague games against his former team, with his next start scheduled for Friday in Seattle against the Mariners.
Still, this is his first trip back to Arizona since the team sent him to Cleveland as part of a three-team deal that brought Didi Gregorius to the desert, which gave the 23-year-old a chance to reflect on the last couple years of his career.
“I look at it like I look at anything else; it’s an experience in life,” Bauer said in the visiting locker room Tuesday. “Whether it be time with a team in baseball or time that I’ve spent with an individual off the field or time that I spent at UCLA or whatever, it’s an experience.”
The right-hander said the goal is to learn from his experiences and then try to improve himself as well as an athlete, a friend and a son.
“I learned a lot from my time here and I’ve learned a lot in the two years since I’ve been gone, and I’m trying to get better every day.”
How much Bauer has improved, at least as a baseball player, is a matter of debate. He started four games for the Diamondbacks in 2012, posting a 1-2 record with a 6.06 ERA.
He says much of the disappointing performance can be attributed to trying to pitch through a groin injury that negatively impacted his performance.
“I couldn’t use my lower half so my velocity was way down and my control was way off because I wasn’t setting myself up in a position that I was used to,” he said. “When I can’t use my lower half, my upper half is affected.
“Playing hurt, whether you’re hitting or pitching or playing the field or whatever, is obviously going to affect your performance. I probably should have gone on the DL at some point that year, but that was my first full year of pro ball, I didn’t know any better.”
He started just four games for the Indians last season, going 1-2 with a 5.29 ERA.
In eight starts this season, the former number-three overall pick is 2-3 with a 4.40 ERA.
While the numbers have not exactly been what people expected, there was — and still is — no denying the pitcher’s talent. Harnessing it has been the issue, as is with many young players, but the D-backs decided they wanted to move on when they did.
Bauer says he doesn’t focus on the idea that Arizona wasn’t willing to stick with him, saying that his focus has and will always be just to keep working and trying to get better.
He believes he has improved, but when asked if he thinks the D-backs gave up on him before they could see the best he had to offer, Bauer said it’s not really in his control.
“I try to focus on getting better, like I said,” he said. “They decided to go in a different direction.
“I hope it worked out the way they wanted it to work out, and ultimately I’ve got to get better as a pitcher, so that’s what I try to focus on.”