GLENDALE, Ariz. — Trevor Bauer immersed himself into a budding rivalry between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres with one eye closed.
The Dodgers’ prized offseason acquisition navigated through his first inning against the Padres on Saturday afternoon by pitching mostly with his right eye closed, a training method he said he uses frequently as a means to make himself uncomfortable.
“I figured if they can’t score off me with one eye open, it’s gonna be difficult to score off me with two eyes open,” Bauer said after throwing three scoreless innings from the Dodgers’ facility. “Just having a little bit of fun.”
Bauer didn’t go into specifics for why he occasionally chooses to keep an eye closed, though Dodgers manager Dave Roberts mentioned that it had something to do with recalibrating his command.
“I think there might have been one curveball I think he did with both eyes closed,” Roberts said while holding his laughter. “I don’t know, but there is a method to his madness.”
Bauer, 30, said he routinely keeps at least one eye closed in bullpen sessions, while playing long toss and when facing hitters over the offseason, adding that he likes “making myself uncomfortable and throwing different stuff my way and trying to find a solution for it.”
Bauer gave up a single to Jurickson Profar to begin his outing, capping a nine-pitch at-bat, then issued a walk to Tommy Pham before retiring the next three batters, the last two on strikeouts. Over the next two innings — with both eyes open, apparently — he retired six of the seven hitters he faced.
The Padres were coming off a Friday night game and didn’t play most of their starters, which meant Bauer didn’t get another crack at third baseman Manny Machado, who is famously batting .588/.667/.1.412 against him in 17 career plate appearances. Bauer previously made a YouTube video analyzing Machado’s success against him, and Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman joked about the desire to figure something out against Machado shortly after signing Bauer to a three-year, $102 million contract last month.
Bauer joked that Machado was “already ducking me” by not making the trip.
When the games begin counting, Bauer said he’ll have plenty of chances against him.
“Just wait,” Bauer said behind a wry smile. “It’s gonna be a fun year.”