Trevor Bauer makes second start in Japan, looks to build pitch count

HIRATSUKA, Japan -- Trevor Bauer started Saturday in his second minor league game in Japan and said he needs to increase his pitch count before he can debut for Yokohama's DeNA BayStars.

The former Cy Young winner, unsigned by any major league club after claims of domestic violence, joined Yokohama last month on a one-year deal.

Bauer said he doesn't know when he'll start for Yokohama and if he does know he isn't saying.

Neither is the team, which won its last league title 25 years ago and is counting on Bauer to deliver.

"It's just about building pitch count right now, making sure that I can pitch a whole game if need be," Bauer said after throwing 77 pitches in five innings in a minor league game southwest of Tokyo.

He gave up one earned run on two hits. Bauer had two strikeouts and left in the sixth after walking the first batter and giving up an infield hit to the next.

Bauer said his fastball "wasn't quite as good" as it was in his minor league debut last weekend. He termed this performance "good not great" on a chilly day in a stadium with an all-dirt infield.

A few thousand fans were in the stands, many wearing Bauer's No. 96 jersey. Japanese have been mostly uncritical of the signing and Bauer has been laudatory -- as expected -- about things in Japan.

"It think it's been good. I didn't expect it to be that difficult," he said. "I know how to get to and from work, which is the most important thing. I feel like I've done pretty good so far."

He said Saturday's weather didn't affect him and that the timing of his first start with Yokohama was unclear.

"That's something we've got to talk to the team about, what [pitch count] they want me to get to," he said. "Today I knew the plan was to get to about 75 and we accomplished that. So we'll get together and decide on a plan for moving forward."

A good guess might be the first week of May during Golden Week, a traditional holiday time for many Japanese.

Bauer was unable to find a major league team to sign him this season even after an arbitrator reduced his unprecedented 324-game suspension for violating the league's domestic violence and sexual assault policy.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Bauer last April after a San Diego woman said he beat and sexually abused her in 2021. Bauer has said everything that happened between them was consensual.

He was never charged with a crime and a California judge found the woman's claims "materially misleading."

Bauer joined his hometown Dodgers before the 2021 season and was 8-5 with a 2.59 ERA in 17 starts before being placed on paid leave. The Dodgers are responsible for $22.5 million of this season's salary.