"There's a wave of this," Bauer says. "The wave is coming." He rattles off names of other top pitching prospects who have embraced similar training methods, such as Dylan Bundy, whom the Orioles took No. 4 overall. Bauer rejoices that the Mariners hired a Harvard Medical School--educated doctor, Marcus Elliott, who removed the weights from the weight room. Bauer is part of a broad movement, but he has the biggest platform.
Stunningly, the Diamondbacks were only a half game behind the Giants in the National League West through Sunday, after finishing last a year ago. They have placed Bauer on the 40-man roster and will consider promoting him for the pennant race, likely as a reliever. A September duel between Bauer and Lincecum, with a division title on the line, is an enticing possibility.
Bauer realizes that he must make some concessions before then. He already leaves his six-foot shoulder tube outside the dugout so as not to cramp any colleagues. He bought a smaller version at Brookstone, and even though he prefers the longer one sold by Oates Specialties, he understands the realities of the workplace. He will adjust when logic dictates it.
Until he signed his pro contract on July 25, Bauer incubated on the ranch, reminding the Little Leaguers to keep their throwing elbow below their shoulder. When Bauer first saw Strasburg pitching with his elbow above his shoulder, he felt a pit in his gut, and when he saw the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright doing the same, he felt it again. Both are currently recovering from Tommy John surgery. "I was like, 'No!' because I love watching those guys," Bauer says. "And I feel so sorry for them because it's not their fault. They were taught this way. I was just lucky enough to be taught a different model."
He is eager to share it, and on a steamy summer afternoon he sat in the barn next to an 18-year-old righthander from Oakland named Joe Ross. Ross is 6'3", 190, throws a 95-mph fastball and was picked 25th overall by the Padres, an organization that has squandered first-round picks for the better part of two decades. Bauer and Wolforth deconstructed video of Ross's delivery, which reminded them of Roy Halladay's, with only two minor fixes recommended. "You need to guard these mechanics like a junkyard dog with foam coming out of your mouth!" Wolforth shouted.
He barked to punctuate his point. Chasey jumped. Ross froze. Bauer nodded. This is no joke. The gunslingers of America are entering an industry that for more than 20 years has failed to protect them. The most promising one of all has done what he can to protect himself.
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