CLEVELAND -- Indians center fielder Michael Bourn saw his window of opportunity and made a risky decision.
In the eighth inning of Sunday's 3-1 loss to the White Sox, Bourn slid headfirst into first base on an infield single, and was spiked on the right hand by left-hander Matt Thornton. After being examined by a team trainer and manager Terry Francona, Bourn exited the game in obvious pain.
Bourn received five stitches in his right index finger and will be unable to play until the wound is healed and the stitches are removed. While the Indians have not given a timetable for Bourn's return, it seems probable that he will miss most, if not all, of the upcoming three-game series against the Red Sox.
"It shouldn't take too, too long," said Bourn, who added that he would surely miss Tuesday's series opener against Boston. "I'll probably be in a little bit of pain for the next day or two. Other than that, I should be fine."
Losing Bourn for any length of time would be costly for the Indians, who signed the fleet-footed outfielder to a four-year, $48 million contract in February. Through 10 games this season, Bourn has hit .333 (15-for-45) with two home runs, two RBIs and four runs.
Against the White Sox on Sunday, Bourn went 3-for-4 with two base hits and a leadoff home run off right-hander Jake Peavy in the first inning. The homer was the sixth leadoff shot of Bourn's career. His showing marked the sixth multi-hit game of the season for Bourn.
"Bourny kind of ambushed him first pitch of the game," Francona said. "After that, we didn't have very many opportunities to score."
Bourn's final hit of the afternoon was a chopper down the first-base line. First baseman Adam Dunn gloved the ball and flipped it to Thornton, who was hustling to cover the bag. Bourn dropped down and slid into first, touching the base just ahead of Thornton. As Bourn slid through first, though, the pitcher stepped on the center fielder's right hand with his left foot.
"I knew something was wrong," Bourn said. "I just felt the pain when I got up. He just stepped on me trying to make a play, and I was trying to be safe. It happens."
Bourn said sliding in headfirst was his only option.
"Yeah," Bourn said. "I had that happen to me before where somebody was coming over there and the left-hander tagged me with the glove, because his glove is right there. I knew the only way to make that not happen again was to slide. I was just trying to get to the bag before he did. I was able to do that, but I got hurt in the process."
Francona had no issues with Bourn's slide.
"I think you play the game," Francona said. "I knew that was going to get asked. I think guys are competing and, again, you don't want to see anybody get hurt, but he's doing his best to get to first. ... Sometimes, when you're trying to beat a pitcher, that's your best way to get to the bag."
While Bourn is sidelined, the Indians could use either left fielder Michael Brantley or right fielder Drew Stubbs in center. Stubbs might be the leading candidate, considering first baseman Nick Swisher and utility man Ryan Raburn have experience in right field. Stubbs was an everyday center fielder, and Gold Glove finalist, last season with the Reds.