There was a lot made of the perceived rift between rookie pitcher Trevor Bauer and catcher Miguel Montero, and rightfully so. In his first two major league starts, he played poorly and was not in sync with his catcher, shaking him off more than a dozen times in his second start. They needed to get together and make a plan of some sort.
Before Sunday's start, the team got Bauer together with some people to communicate their plan. It was manager Kirk Gibson that got Montero and Bauer together, along with himself, pitching coach Charles Nagy, bullpen coach Glenn Sherlock and bullpen catcher Jeff Motuzas.
Apparently it did the trick. He pitched six scoreless innings in his start, walked only one batter, retired the last 12 hitters he faced and got his first major league win.
Bauer reacted to it after the game.
"It was definitely good to sit down and talk to him and talk to everyone in the room and kind of explain how I like to pitch and listen to how they like to attack hitters," Bauer said. "It was more comfortable out there for sure. We just needed to talk it out and get on the same page and we were on the same page today. It was a lot easier than when he put down a sign because he knows how I like to pitch, he's using his knowledge of the hitters to fit to my game plan and let's go with it."
However, he did not completely concede to the communication being the key factor. "I think the biggest difference is I was able to be consistent mechanically and throw strikes," he said. "I was throwing strikes today, making them hit the ball instead of being behind in the count."
Gibson told Montero and Bauer that they had to trust each other. They did. Montero also visited the mound a lot over the course of the game, something atypical for the Diamondbacks. It was likely a visible way to remind Bauer to stay with him and to explain the reasons for calling the pitches he was going to call.
Montero noted that Bauer shook him off only four or five times.
At the end of the day, the results were what mattered. There was communication and Bauer pitched well. It likely moves Josh Collmenter back to the bullpen and Patrick Corbin back to the minors after the All-Star Break once Joe Saunders returns from the disabled list.
The relationship is likely going to take some work still between Montero and Bauer. But we have seen it before. Ian Kennedy and Montero had a similar situation in August 2010. At the time Kennedy was 7-9 with a 4.41 ERA. He and Montero worked on things and Kennedy had a 1.67 ERA the rest of the way.
That doesn't necessarily mean that Bauer will win 21 games next year like Kennedy did the following season, but there is a pattern -- be on the same page as Montero and you pitch well if you have the talent.
This bodes very, very well for the Diamondbacks.
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