CLEVELAND -- With roughly six weeks remaining in the regular season, the Indians can only hope that the return of center fielder Michael Bourn helps ignite a possible push for a postseason spot.
Cleveland activated Bourn from the 15-day disabled list prior to Friday's game against the Orioles, following his latest bout with a left hamstring injury. Due to reliever John Axford being claimed off trade waivers by the Pirates on Thursday, the Indians did not need to clear room on the roster for Bourn.
"I'm happy he's back," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "And I think he's probably thrilled. I know he worked really hard to get back and not just to get back, because he understands the importance of how his legs can impact a game."
Bourn, who was on the disabled list since July 6, went 0-for-4 for Triple-A Columbus on Thursday in completing his Minor League rehab assignment. The center fielder went a combined 2-for-23 in six games with Double-A Akron and Columbus, but all indications are that the veteran outfielder is healthy.
This was the third time this season that the 31-year-old Bourn dealt with an injury involving his left hamstring, which was surgically repaired in October. He opened the season on the disabled list due to the hamstring, missed a handful of games in early May and was shelved again after the issue flared up again in July.
The Indians have noted that the most recent injury was unrelated to the area of the hamstring Bourn had operated on after last season.
"We're hopeful he'll get past them," Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said of Bourn's injuries, "but he's obviously had recurring issues with his hamstrings and his lower body. [He's] reliant upon his speed to impact the game. Offensively, on the bases and defensively, his legs are a huge part of his contributions.
"Based upon the information we're receiving from all the medical experts, they don't feel it will be a lingering issue moving forward or he'll be comprimised. But we'll have to see how it plays out."
In 66 games, Bourn has hit .267 with three home runs, nine doubles, seven triples, seven stolen bases, 21 RBIs and 37 runs scored. He was not in the lineup on Friday, but Francona noted that the center fielder -- signed to a four-year deal worth $48 million prior to last season -- would play on Saturday and potentially on Sunday as well.