GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians signed Michael Bourn last spring to serve as a disruptive force atop the lineup. Cleveland saw that at times during the season, but the center fielder fought a handful of injuries and experienced a considerable drop-off in stolen bases.
The Indians are expecting a solid comeback campaign this time around for Bourn, who is now a little more familiar with the American League and its pitchers. The fleet-footed outfielder is also healthy again after undergoing surgery on his left hamstring in October.
Indians manager Terry Francona said he is confident that Bourn will do everything he can to return to form this summer.
"One [reason] is his familiarity, which I know is very important to him," Francona said. "Saying that, he's still coming off some surgery this winter that he needs to work into. He's working on his bunting a lot. You'll probably see him do that a lot in Spring Training games. He understands his importance at the top of our order. The one thing is he's as conscientious as anybody you're ever going to find."
True to Francona's word, Bourn used a sacrifice bunt to move Mike Aviles from first to second base in the third inning of Tuesday's 5-4 win over the White Sox.
In 130 games last season, the 31-year-old Bourn turned in a .263/.316/.360 slash line with 33 extra-base hits, 23 stolen bases and 75 runs scored. He missed time between April and May with a right index finger injury and sustained a left hamstring strain in the final game of the regular season. On Oct. 15 in Dallas, Dr. Dan Cooper performed a distal hamstring debridement on the center fielder.
Bourn's numbers represented a noticeable drop from his typical production. Across the 2009-12 seasons, he turned in a .280/.348/.378 slash line to go along with an average of 42 extra-base hits, 54 stolen bases and 93 runs scored between stints with the Astros and Braves.
Francona believes that Bourn's stolen-base numbers will rise in 2014.
"I do think they will," Francona said. "He's worked so hard. I think his gait is really good. I don't see him favoring anything. But again, I don't want to get stuck on looking at a number, because if he's on base, and he's scoring runs and he's disrupting the game, that's what we're looking for."