"I'd rather have my leg healthy and be ready to play for the long haul," Bourn said, "than try to make it for Opening Day just because."
Bourn, who tweaked his hamstring in a game against the Giants on March 16, has progressed only to running forward on the grass agility field at Cleveland's complex in Arizona. The center fielder said he might test his leg on the bases as early as Tuesday but that it was subject to change.
Bourn has been able to hit and throw, but the running program has been conservative given the importance of speed to his overall game. Because of the timing of the DL stint, Antonetti said that Bourn would miss at least the first four games of the season, meaning April 5 would represent the earliest possible return date.
"As we walked through it, it just seemed like it made sense to start him on the disabled list," Francona said. "What we want, all of our goals combined, are to have him back being Bourny. Not half of Bourny. Not part of him.
"We understand he'd play. If we asked him to, he'd play. We have no doubt about that. He'd go out there with one leg hanging off, but we need to have his speed impact our club, and so we need to let him try to build up properly so he can really help us."
Bourn, 31, hit .263 with six home runs, 21 doubles, six triples, 50 RBIs, 23 stolen bases and 75 runs scored in 130 games last year for the Indians, who signed him to a four-year contract worth $48 million two winters ago. Bourn had surgery on his left hamstring on Oct. 15, though the team has said the current injury is unrelated.
Bourn said he planned to be smart about his current comeback.
"I don't know percentage-wise, but I'm feeling OK," Bourn said. "I'm feeling pretty good. I know it's coming along. It feels much better than it did. I just want to make sure I'm healthy first, and then I'll start to ramp up to where I'm starting to get back in game shape."