Bourn anxious to return to Indians lineup on Wednesday
DETROIT — As much as he wanted to get back, Michael Bourn knew that he would have to be 100 percent. After playing the weekend in Akron, Bourn is ready to return.
The Indians activated Bourn off the disabled list on Tuesday before their scheduled game against the Tigers, which was postponed due to cold weather. With Bourn being activated, Nyjer Morgan was optioned to Triple-A Columbus.
"You miss it when you’re gone, being in the big leagues and being able to come in here with the fellas and dress out and have an opportunity to play at the top level every day. I’m ecstatic to be back," Bourn said,
Morgan’s being sent down was a surprise considering how well he played during Bourn’s absence. In nine games, Morgan was 8 for 23 (.343) with a .484 on-base percentage along with three stolen bases. However, with a bullpen the leads the American League in innings pitched, it made it easier to send down a position player.
Bourn did say that Morgan was "electric" in holding things down while he was gone and was confident Morgan would be back at some point during the season.
Both Bourn and Morgan are also left-handed batting center fielders which also made it difficult to keep both according to Terry Francona.
Added Francona: "It wasn’t really a tough decision. It was difficult in the fact he (Morgan) had done so well and I don’t think anybody thought he deserved to go to Triple-A. But when you look at the way our team’s constituted, we needed to stay with the extra pitcher in the bullpen."
Bourn suffered a mild strain of his left hamstring during a March 16 spring training game against the Giants. When it happened, he hoped to be back in time for Opening Day, but that was being optimistic considering the recovery time is usually 4-6 weeks. It happened higher up than when he injured it during the final weekend of last season at Minnesota.
During the offseason Bourn had surgery on the hamstring. His rehab process went well and he appeared to be back on track until the strain during spring training.
"Over time it was going to happen, that’s what the doctor told me. It happens to athletes that can run a little bit," said Bourn of this injury. "You use it so much and fast twitch so much. Luckily it was what it was. It was high and not a bad injury. They took care of it. My rehab went fine."
Bourn appeared in five games during his rehab assignment with three in Akron and two in Columbus. Over the weekend in Akron, Bourn stole a base and did well in chasing down some fly balls in center.
"Confidence is everything with it. I stole a base to test myself and was able to run down the line good, when I was in the outfield breaking on balls I wasn’t thinking about it. I’m sure with adrenalin going I might be moving a little bit faster," Bourn said.
It was a star-studded weekend for the RubberDucks, as Jason Giambi was also doing a rehab stint with the Double-A club. Bourn got pizza from Luigi’s for his teammates one night while Bourn and Giambi arranged for Outback the last night Bourn was there. Francona said on Tuesday that there is the possibility Giambi could be activated in time for the weekend series against Toronto.
Bourn is trying to bounce back after playing only 130 games last season. He has the most steals in baseball over the past six seasons but had only 23 last season after five years of 40-plus. He batted .263 from the leadoff spot and saw his on-base percentage dip to .360.
When asked if he is ready to play back-to-back nights, Bourn said he is. The first test though will come in this series with a night game on Wednesday and day game Thursday. Michael Brantley can also play center with either Elliot Johnson or Mike Aviles in left.
"I’m going to communicate with them. I’ll be honest with them. If I feel it a little bit I can still play. If I feel it a lot I won’t do it. I’ve got to look out for myself health-wise and for our team health-wise. I don’t want to be out there and not able to help anybody," Bourn said. "I know I can play baseball. I have confidence in myself I can go out there and do what I do. I know if I go, our team goes."