The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

June 4, 2014

Indians Notes: Bourn healthy, igniting Tribe offense

Unlike with Nick Swisher, the Indians picked the right time to unveil the Michael Bourn bobblehead.

Swisher’s “Bro-Hio” bobblehead was passed out to fans with the first baseman on the disabled list and batting just .211. Bourn’s was available Tuesday night, with the center fielder healthy and finally showing some of the qualities that enticed Cleveland into signing the two-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove award winner to a four-year contract worth $48 million.

Bourn was hampered by injuries last year — underwent offseason surgery on his left hamstring — and opened this season on the disabled list with an injury to the same hamstring. But he’s moving more fluidly and hitting better, entering Tuesday night batting .294 with two home runs, 14 RBI and five stolen bases in 38 games.

“As he grows into the season, I think you’re going to see more and more of this,” manager Terry Francona said. “He makes us go. I think when he goes like that, we can be a different team.”

The Indians have only seen glimpses of the blazing speed possessed by Bourn, who led the National League in stolen bases three years straight (2009-11).

“It takes patience but I think that’s the best way to go about it,” Francona said. “I don’t think you can just give somebody a speech and make them run fast, especially after having surgery, the cold weather. People may not want to hear that, but it’s reality.

“He understands the more he can impact the game with his legs the better we are. He also understands that staying on the field is important. What I don’t want him to do is just run into outs. That’s not going to help us. I do want him to feel confident in the fact that if he does run and gets thrown out, we’re going to be positive.”

Meanwhile, there is positive news on the Swisher front as well. Francona said Swisher (hyperextended left knee) could begin playing in minor league rehab games during the team’s upcoming 10-game road trip that begins Friday.

“I think he’s pretty upbeat about where he is,” Francona said of Swisher. “The big thing we’ve tried to drive home with Swish is, ‘OK, you’re on the disabled list. Let’s not have an artificial timetable. We want you back when you can come back and play and not be limping, and he understands that.”

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