Seventeen thoughts for the luck ‘o the Irish, although the umpires Monday at Goodyear Ballpark would beg to differ.
1. Center fielder Michael Bourn got up from the conference table in the Indians’ media room Monday morning as manager Terry Francona was walking in. As their paths crossed, Francona made a crack about having to do this every day. “I feel sorry for you,” Bourn replied.
2. The fact that they were able to joke seemed a good sign about the severity of the mild left hamstring strain Bourn suffered Sunday in a split-squad game against the San Francisco Giants. Bourn and Nick Swisher are the Tribe’s two prized free agent investments from the 2013 off-season and their improvement in their second years in Indians uniforms seems crucial if the team is to improve on its 92-70 record a year ago.
3. Bourn knows his body. He said when he felt the hamstring tweak as he went from first to third, he “knew not to go too far. I knew to pull up and take it easy.” That may be what saved him from a more serious injury, especially since he had surgery on the same hamstring on Oct. 15.
4. Bourn also knows the difference between a gradual hamstring problem he can feel coming and this kind, where “you have to hold up a little bit because you don’t want too much to happen.”
5. As it is, Bourn will miss at least a week. I’ll be surprised if he starts on Opening Day at Oakland on March 31. The Indians have too much invested in Bourn to push, and Francona said he wouldn’t. They also have several outfielders with major league experience in camp.
6. The good news is that Bourn said he’s felt no effects from his off-season surgery.
“I’ve tested it out pretty much doing anything you can do – jumping, running, squatting, outfield drills,” he said of what he’d attempted before Sunday.
7. Bourn said he took care of the hamstring in the off-season so “if anything were to happen it wouldn’t be in that same area.” He said he’s monitored how much work he’s done and how many innings he’s played in spring training. “You have to make sure you maintain and get in baseball shape. I think I’m in baseball shape,” he said. “I’m fine, it’s just something that happened. I think I’ll be ready.” Just maybe not on March 31.
8. Asked if now is the time for R&R, he said, “R&R, no, that’s to relax. R&T.” That was a reference to rest and treatment.
9. If he learns he’s going to be without Bourn as he leadoff hitter in the Oakland series, Francona doesn’t feel the need to experiment with other candidates. Last season he used only three players there – Bourn (124 games), Michael Brantley (25 games) and the since-departed Drew Stubbs (13). “Whoever we hit there, we’re not going to ask them to do anything different,” Francona said. “We would put them there because it makes sense. If we happen to say Brantley is going to lead off, it’s not like you have to hit him there the last game of spring training. Hitting is hitting.”
10. Francona didn’t want to discuss who would lead off or start in center field or any adjustments that will have to be made if Bourn misses games to start the season. “I don’t think we need to start looking at options for Opening Day yet,” he said. “We need to get ready to pare our roster down and look at today’s game.”
11. Reliever Nick Hagadone was assigned to Triple-A Columbus Monday, but Francona expects him to contribute to the Indians this season.
12. Asked what he thought of Hagadone this spring, Francona said, “Some really good, some inconsistencies. The biggest thing we’re trying to get Nick to do is make adjustments quicker. This camp if he came in and he had a walk, then he’d come back and have a good inning. Now we’re trying to get to ‘If you throw ball one up, let’s reel it in right now as opposed to after one hitter.’”
13. Francona also has an issue with Hagadone being ready at moment’s notice. “It’s hard because when you send a guy down, that’s not the best day for them to listen. But when the phone rings, whether it’s 7 in the morning or 7 at night, being ready to come in and compete. That’s probably the biggest thing we could tell him. We will continue to follow up with him, because we need him in the major leagues helping us win," Francona said.
14. Apparently Hagadone tried to wriggle out of what he told a few members of the Northeast Ohio media about a March 5 appearance vs. the Seattle Mariners. Hagadone was summoned in the first inning with the bases loaded, but thought he’d pitch much later in the game. He walked the first batter, gave up a two-run single, then walked the third man he faced before escaping. He rallied with a 1-2-3 second. He told reporters the next day he hadn’t been ready to pitch.
15. “I actually asked him about that and he wanted talk about that. He said that wasn’t really the case,” Francona said. That comment left some wondering if Hagadone told Francona he’d been misquoted.
16. Francona continues to rave about No. 2 starter Corey Kluber, who had a rough second inning Monday but was sharp in the next two innings. “I think he looks really good,” Francona said. “He’s got such late action on all his pitches and he’s aggressive. I think the more he pitches, the more people are going to realize how good this kid is.”
17. I’m not sure I’ve seen a more bizarre spring training game than Monday, with crazy quotes, bats splintering, two umpires getting hit (Brad Myers extremely painfully) and Indians’ minor league left fielder Tyler Holt getting hurt on the game-ending, two-run double by Reds outfielder Steve Selsky. I’m hoping for a break from the madness tomorrow.