- Jim Caple, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Trevor Bauer throws the ball so far in his outfield corner-to-outfield corner long toss routine that not only do opponents stop to watch, but the Diamondbacks send a relay man out to the middle of the outfield to get the ball back to him. But that's not the most impressive thing about his pregame warm-up routine. No, the most impressive thing is Bauer's response when asked just how far it is from the left field corner to the right corner.
"It's 330 feet down both lines, so it's 330 times root 2,'' he said, pulling out his smartphone. He called up the calculator accessory and punched in 330 times the square root of two. "That's 466.69 feet.''
Yes, Bauer majored in mechanical engineering at UCLA.
The foul pole-to-foul pole long toss is not the most interesting part of Bauer's warm-up routine, though. Before the rookie hopeful steps on the rubber for his warm-up pitches between innings, he channels Happy Gilmore by taking a step or two from behind the mound and firing the ball as hard as he can toward home plate. Sometimes the catcher catches the pitch. Sometimes he just gets out of the way and watches it fly to the backstop.
"I find it's fun for the fans. I get to throw the ball anywhere and they get to ride me, and it's a good time for everyone, right?'' Bauer said with a grin. "No, that started off when I was 14. It was just a way to remind my body that we're trying to be explosive here. I also have the mindset of going out there and attacking and being really aggressive.''
In other words, you're going to love watching this kid when he makes the big leagues. As one scout described him, "He's Tim Lincecum Jr.''
The Diamondbacks selected Bauer, 21, with the third overall pick in last June's draft. He was 1-2 with a 5.96 ERA at Class A and Double-A last summer but struck out an attention-demanding 43 batters in 25 2/3 innings. He throws a low- to mid-90s fastball with an excellent curve. Josh Collmenter's recent arm stiffness provided Bauer with an outside chance at cracking Arizona's rotation this spring. If not then, possibly sometime this season.
"He's certainly on our radar screen,'' Arizona general manager Kevin Towers said. "Last year Collmenter wasn't a guy on our radar screen at this point and he ended up starting for us in May. [Bauer] is a very advanced college kid who pretty much flew through our organization last year. It's good for him to get exposure with the big league staff and face good competition. We'll see what happens at the end of March.''
Bauer's long toss routine begins in one corner of the field, and he gradually works his way to the other corner with high, arcing throws that he says do not place much stress on his arm. When he gets to the corner, he works his way back, throwing the ball harder and harder as he progresses. He says the routine goes back to when he was 14 and attended the Texas Baseball Ranch in Houston.
"It was like 105 degrees and, I don't know, 200 percent humidity. It was terrible,'' he said. "So I got this feeling of being extremely loose and sweaty and it felt like I could move around freely. They kind of taught me to warm up that way to replicate the feeling down there, and I've been doing pretty much the same routine for the past seven years.''
And players have been watching it for about as long. "I was used to that six years ago when I would throw long toss in the park and people would be walking their dogs and going like, 'What are you doing?'"
They weren't alone. "There are not a lot of people who even understand what he's doing, but if you sit down and ask him the science and physics behind it, he'll tell you because he knows,'' Diamondbacks reliever J.J. Putz said.
" I'm just very impressed about the way the kid goes about his work. People can say what they want about the quirkiness of it and how he's a young guy, so how is he going to dictate what he does. But anytime you're committed to something, whether it's the right thing to do or the wrong thing, if you're committed, it's the right thing for you. People can say what they want, that it's so unorthodox, but if he believes in it, it's going to work for him.
He carries himself well, and he's very respectful to everybody. I think he understands his place in the game right now, that he's a young kid coming up, and he's not afraid to ask questions, which is another good sign. I'm just very impressed.
”-- Diamondbacks reliever J.J. Putz
on Trevor Bauer
"And I don't think anybody is going to outwork that kid. He's in the weight room all the time, doing his core work. The kid is dedicated. He's a baseball junkie and he works his a-- off.''
Not that everyone loves the Happy Gilmore warm-up pitch. "It scares me -- he's going to kill somebody,'' Arizona catcher Miguel Montero said. "I don't feel comfortable back there. He has his reasons for doing it, but I don't think it's the right thing to do. He's throwing it right at you. I would prefer I wouldn't have to catch it.''
Which, Bauer says, is certainly a catcher's option.
"I tell him to just stand up, and if you want to just get out of the way and not even catch it, that's fine with me,'' he said. "If you want to squat down and take the chance that I'll bounce one at about 100 miles [per hour] 3 feet in front of the plate, go ahead. But they all just kind of stand there and if it's over their head, they just say, 'New ball.'"
Asked if major league baseball is ready for such a routine, Bauer said, "I don't know. I'm just worrying about myself and trying to get better. I'm not sure if I'm ready for the major leagues. I'm just trying to learn and execute better every time I go out.''
"He keeps going out there with stuff like this and doing the things he's doing, I don't think anyone is going to have any problem with him,'' Putz said. "He carries himself well, and he's very respectful to everybody. I think he understands his place in the game right now, that he's a young kid coming up, and he's not afraid to ask questions, which is another good sign. I'm just very impressed.''
3hAdam Lewis, Special to ESPN.com