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Tribe mindful of Bourn's health, not stats, in Minors

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Tribe mindful of Bourn's health, not stats, in Minors play video for Tribe mindful of Bourn's health, not stats, in Minors

NEW YORK -- The last thing Indians manager Terry Francona is looking at right now is Michael Bourn's batting average. The center fielder's health is far more important than the early offensive results from his Minor League rehab assignment.

Through three games with Double-A Akron, the reports have been that Bourn's left hamstring is feeling much improved. The fact that Bourn has gone 0-for-10 in the batter's box in those contests is close to irrelevant, as far as Francona is concerned.

"The early stage, I don't care about the hitting," Francona said on Saturday. "We want him to see pitches. To be honest with you, if he goes 8-for-10, that's not going to matter a week from now with us. There's a progression of him seeing pitches and getting comfortable.

"When he gets to us, he might be 1-for-20, but if that last couple at-bats he feels good? Good."

Bourn, who has been on the 15-day disabled list with the hamstring injury since July 6, was scheduled to work out with Double-A Akron on Saturday. The center fielder will then play again with Akron on Sunday before moving his rehab to Triple-A Columbus on Monday. Bourn will likely play a handful of games at Triple-A before potentially being activated.

The one concern Francona does have about Bourn, who has had multiple issues with his left hamstring since late last season, is that the center fielder could be hesitant to steal bases for Cleveland. Bourn stole 257 bags (more than 50 per season) from 2008-12, with an 81 percent success rate. In two years (196 games) with the Indians, he had 30 steals in 45 attempts (67 percent).

Bourn's history as a base thief played a large role in Cleveland's decision to sign him to a four-year, $48 million deal prior to last season.

"I guess we kind of walk a fine line there," Francona said, "because we do value the stolen-base percentage, because that's important. But one of his strengths is being able to change a game with his legs. I'm a little bit careful of what I say to him, because I don't want him just to run into outs, but him running the bases is a big, big weapon for us. It could help us.

"It'd be nice to see him fully healthy and feeling confident. You saw kind of what [Billy] Hamilton could do the other day [for the Reds]. It can change a game."

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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