Column: MLB cannot let Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer start Sunday

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The following column includes graphic details of sexual assault allegations.

Trevor Bauer will take the mound for the Dodgers on Sunday in Washington against the Nationals.

“Trevor began punching my face.”

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Bauer will take the mound with a sterling eight wins, a sparkling 2.59 ERA, and a league-leading 137 strikeouts.

“Trevor then punched me hard with a closed fist to the left side of my jaw, the left side of my head, and both cheekbones … after punching me several times, he then flipped me back onto my stomach, and began choking me with hair.”

Bauer will take the mound having pitched a team-high 107 2/3 innings as one of the cornerstones of a Dodgers pitching staff that leads baseball with a 3.19 ERA.

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“[Bauer] began putting his fingers down my throat in an aggressive manner … he wrapped my hair around my neck and choked me … I lost consciousness … I woke up face down on the bed, disoriented. I began realizing that he was having sex with me in my anus, which I never communicated that I wanted, nor did I consent.”

Bauer will take the mound with a $40 million salary this season, making him the highest paid player on the defending World Series champions.

“I agreed to have consensual sex, however, I did not agree or consent to what he did next. I did not agree to be sexually assaulted.”

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Why is Trevor Bauer still taking the mound?

In the wake of chilling declarations contained in the shocking domestic violence restraining order request filed this week by a woman against Bauer, why is Major League Baseball allowing its product to be stained, one its marquee franchises to be embarrassed, and an alleged batterer to be empowered?

Bauer needs to be benched. He needs to be benched now. Pitching for the Dodgers and representing the city of Los Angeles is not a right, but a privilege. Based on the accusations and evidence contained in the restraining order request, Bauer has, at the very least, badly abused that privilege.

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While police say Bauer is under investigation for felony assault, no arrests have been made, no charges have been filed and he is obviously constitutionally deserving of the presumption of innocence. His agent argues text messages the Los Angeles Times have not authenticated indicate she asked to be choked and hit. But MLB doesn’t operate like a court of law. While the Dodgers are prohibited by the league’s collectively bargained domestic violence policy from taking any action, MLB can place Bauer on paid administrative leave for seven days while it investigates, with the possibility of extending that time with the cooperation of the union.

The league needs to make that move now. The league cannot let Bauer take the mound on Sunday. Bauer can challenge the decision, but the league needs to do it anyway. If he pitches, what should solely be a July 4 celebration of the greatness of America will also become an example of the insensitivity of an America that casually dismisses domestic violence accusations.

While the baseball culture still too often ignores sexual harassment — witness the repeated high-level hiring of former Angels pitching coach Mickey Callaway before he was finally dismissed this season — the current MLB domestic violence policy has some teeth. Since 2015, players have been suspended from 15 games to an entire season. This includes the Dodgers’ Julio Urías being suspended for 20 games in 2019 after witnesses said he shoved his girlfriend to the ground in a parking lot. There were no charges filed in that incident, but Urias was initially placed on that seven-day administrative leave, and that’s what baseball needs to do here.

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It’s only a week, but MLB can use that time to drag Bauer out of the spotlight and dig for the facts. Listen equally to the accuser and the accused. Ignore the stereotypes. Don’t be swayed by Bauer’s powerful lawyers and strong social media presence or the woman’s attorneys. Find the truth.

Such an investigation will obviously take longer than seven days, and chances are great that Bauer returns to the mound in a week like nothing happened. But a statement will have been made, and the digging will continue. Considering studies show that only 5% of rape allegations are found to be false, MLB needs to embark on this journey, no matter how ugly it might get.

The 67-page document was filed by a 27-year-old San Diego woman in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday. It references two undisputed sexual encounters between the two parties in Bauer’s Pasadena residence after they met on Instagram two months ago. When the report is combined with responses from Bauer’s representatives, including supporting text messages, it initially appears to be a classic case of he said, she said.

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He said she asked for rough sex. She said he became invasive and abusive. He said he would never do anything to hurt anyone. She said she never agreed to choking, gagging and sodomy.

“I had a terrible pain behind both of my ears,” she wrote of their second encounter. “I tasted blood in my mouth and felt that my lip was split open. My whole body hurt and I could not even tell if he was having sex with me.”

Certainly, this will be easily dismissed by some as little more than regrets after kinky sex, especially considering there were multiple consenting encounters. There will be questions as to why the woman would return to Bauer’s home. There will be the larger question of why anyone should care about the private activities of consenting adults.

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But in the woman’s declaration, there’s more than just vivid accusations. There was a copy from Alvarado Hospital Medical Center‘s report from a May 17 visit in which she was diagnosed with “Acutecq head injury” and “assault by manual strangulation.” And there were multiple accompanying photos of her with two black eyes, a bloody lip, a swollen jaw and a badly scratched face.

OK MLB, have you seen enough?

If this restraining order request and declaration were filed against a regular employee of a regular company, that person would be thrown out of the office pending an investigation or even fired.

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If Trevor Bauer worked in the real world, given his history of harassing women online — a history the Dodgers were criticized for minimalizing when they signed him — he would probably be fired on the spot.

But he is a major league pitcher.

And he takes the mound for the Dodgers on Sunday.

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Unless MLB finds its spine and stops him.

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