TORONTO - Trevor Bauer sat at the podium for the ritual day-before press conference Major League Baseball forces each upcoming starting pitcher to endure. This could have been antagonistic for Bauer. He was scratched from his Game 2 start because he cut his pinky on his throwing hand Friday while fiddling with his drone. It was one of the more bizarre injuries of this season.
But instead of bristling from any possible questions, Bauer, not always peachy, leaned into his quirkiness. He brought his drone, a yellow and black quadriped-looking flying apparatus, to the room and put it down on the table right next to him.
Trevor Bauer doing his press with his drone... pic.twitter.com/Mlu4xOSsm6— #16 (@TeamTulo) October 16, 2016
“I think it’s a fairly well-known thing, probably, that I’m a big nerd,” Bauer said. “And I like Star Wars a lot.”
Bauer is one of baseball’s unique characters. He has irritated organizations with his particular routines and persnickety behavior. But off the field, he is open-minded and inquisitive.
Three years ago, he watched a video of drones racing through a forest, with their LED lights beaming behind them. It reminded Bauer of a scene from Star Wars, of a race on Endor. This captured his imagination. He started studying and researching drones. He majored in mechanical engineering at UCLA, so Bauer also started designing and printing them.
Bauer created the drone he brought with him Sunday and he put it together. Friday, it did not function as he intended. When he plugged in the battery, the drone didn’t work right away. Three propellers didn’t move, but the fourth spun at full speed. It clipped his pinky, cutting it from between the first knuckle and nail down to the second knuckle. Bauer called a cab from his hotel room in Cleveland to the emergency room and received enough stitches for him to have his start moved but too many for him to keep count, or to want to.
It was, he says, the first time he’s had an issue like this. He has thrown since then and had minimal bleeding Saturday and doesn’t think there will be any Monday. The cut doesn’t affect his grip on any of his pitches.
“It's really a non-issue,” he said. “I've been able to throw normally and stuff. Like I said, I'm excited for tomorrow.”
Bauer remains gung-ho about drones.
“It’s just a great outlet for me to kind of get away from baseball a little bit and enjoy technology,” he said.
“It’s kind of my escape.”
(He is also excited for the new Star Wars movie that will come out. He saw the Rogue One trailer and liked it. Bauer read the books as a child and wants to see the Star Wars universe expanded and exhibited on the big screen. His favorite movie?
“I don't know,” he says. “‘Phantom Menace’ probably, just because I think Darth Maul is one of the coolest villains, double-sided lightsaber, and his theme song. I like that one for whatever reason. But I don't have a least favorite one. They're all 1a., 1b., stuff like that.”)
But he does admit that he’s had a rocky relationship with them. Last February, MLB security banned him from flying his drones over the Indians’ spring training ballpark and facility. In July, he got a drone stuck in a tree in Kansas City. Now, this.
"There's a ton of adversity,” he said. “It's basically like a good marriage, right? We fight all the time. Beat each other up. No, that's not a good marriage. Don't do that. That can be taken out of context. I definitely don't endorse that. I fly them hard and try to push my limits and learn new tricks and fly closer to obstacles so I crash a lot. That’s actually one of the things I’m most proud about. This one, it crashes really well and it doesn’t break.
“Definitely, a lot of adversity. I’m always fixing them, repairing them. I have like 8 or 10 of them in my fleet and at any given time usually about one or two are actually working. So lots of repairs. My dad jokes with me that I need to hire like a drone repair technician to just follow me full time so I have a healthy fleet. I work on them all the time so I’m well aware how they go together."