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Bourn eager to return, but being patient

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CLEVELAND -- Michael Bourn showed up to the Indians' clubhouse on Sunday morning and immediately took some heat from his teammates. They jumped at the opportunity to give Bourn a hard time about the patchy beard he was sporting.

Bourn took the jokes in stride, because he was happy to be back with the team and thrilled to be closing in on his return from the 15-day disabled list. Sunday was an off-day for Bourn, but he tested his left hamstring during a seven-inning stint with Triple-A Columbus in the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday.

In his first game action since March 16, when he injured the hamstring in a Spring Training tilt against the Giants, Bourn collected a single in three at-bats and ran down some balls in center field. Bourn said he will likely play at least two more games prior to rejoining Cleveland's lineup.

"My leg feels good hitting," Bourn said. "It doesn't bother me running. We've just got to make sure with a hamstring that it's ready, because it's kind of hard to gauge. It's hard to go all out to know that you've got to trust yourself on everything. I use my legs for pretty much a lot of my game. I'm a fast-twitch type person, so I just have to make sure I'm OK."

It is possible that Bourn will join the Indians at some point during their upcoming road trip through Chicago and Detroit. Beginning Thursday, Cleveland has four road games against the White Sox and, following an off-day on April 14, the Tribe heads to the Motor City for three games against the Tigers.

While Bourn has been sidelined, the Indians have leaned primarily on outfielder Nyjer Morgan to handle the leadoff and center-field duties. Heading into Sunday's game, Morgan had gone 4-for-10 at the plate with four walks, two sacrifice bunts and one sacrifice fly.

"He's done a good job," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Morgan. "He's been on base I think half the time, which is really good. That's what we hope for. It takes the sting out of losing a guy like Bourn when you have a guy getting on base so much."

Bourn said Morgan's performance has also helped the center fielder exercise patience in his comeback.

"You don't want to feel that pressure to rush back," Bourn said. "He's a good player. He's a proven player in the big leagues. He can hit leadoff and play center field. I don't want to be in a rush to get back just because. It's early in the season, too. I'm trying to be a veteran."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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