SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.: As the Indians left Arizona for San Diego on Thursday, there was increasing optimism that center fielder Michael Bourn will miss only four games with a strained left hamstring.
On Monday, Bourn was placed on the 15-day disabled list with an injury suffered March 16 running the bases against the San Francisco Giants. Bourn underwent surgery Oct. 15 on the same hamstring.
Retroactive to March 21, the move meant Bourn would not be able to play until the April 5 home game against the Minnesota Twins. The Indians open the season Monday night at the Oakland Athletics.
Manager Terry Francona said Thursday that Bourn is running the bases and “getting pretty active.”
“He’s out there today doing everything with our team except playing the game,” Francona said before the Indians faced the Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
On Wednesday, Francona said, “Bourn is going to be back pretty quick.”
Even first baseman Nick Swisher, whose locker is close to Bourn’s, expects him to be playing soon.
“Mikey is not going to be out for much longer,” Swisher said.
Francona still doesn’t know who will bat leadoff in Bourn’s place during the three-game series against the A’s.
“I’m not sure who’s even going to play yet,” Francona said. “Right-left-right [starting pitchers], their potential bullpen, I wouldn’t be surprised if everybody on our team plays.”
Francona said he’s leaning toward batting Michael Brantley in the leadoff spot against a left-handed starter in Oakland. But he’s not sure who will get the nod against right-handers. As of Thursday evening, the only probable pitcher for the series announced by the A’s was right-hander Sonny Gray, a first-round pick in 2011 who is slated for Monday.
No pain for Giambi
Designated hitter/first baseman Jason Giambi, who will go on the disabled list Sunday, didn’t mind missing out on a $100,000 retention bonus he could have netted had he started on the minor-league DL. He’s thrilled that General Manager Chris Antonetti wanted him on the trip to San Diego and Oakland.
“That was huge,” Giambi said. “I’m definitely honored and excited. I told him I was really grateful for that. They could have left me down here. To be with the ballclub really means a lot to me.
“I’ve got to root on the boys.”
Giambi, 43, suffered a nondisplaced rib fracture on his right side when hit by a pitch March 7 against the Chicago Cubs, but said the pain left him two or three days ago.
“The doctor said, ‘All a sudden you’re going to get to a point where you’re going to feel good.’ He said it was going to feel like there’s a bruise in there,” Giambi said. “The training staff has done an unbelievable job.”
Giambi looks forward to going to Oakland, where he made his major-league debut in 1995.
“Where the rat race all started,” he said.
Francona isn’t happy with the rule in the collective bargaining agreement that prohibits organized team activities the day before the opener. He would have loved to have held a workout Sunday in Oakland because pitchers need to throw.
“They’re allowed to, you’re not allowed to tell them they need to, which is kind of weird. I respect that, I just don’t agree with it. I think the rule is probably in place for a different reason,” Francona said.
“I think what the union was trying to do was not have teams forced to play their affiliates if you’re going north. I get that. You practice all spring. Then the day before you’re ready to start, you’re telling people they can’t or don’t want them to. That to me is a little bit backwards.”
Asked if players could go to the park on their own, he joked, “If we do something, I think the NCAA gets involved.”
Let it snow
Swisher spoke to his brother in Columbus and was told it’s still snowing in Ohio. But that didn’t dampen Swisher’s enthusiasm for the April 4 home opener in Progressive Field.
“We might have to bring the blowers out, bring the helicopters down to get the field ready,” Swisher said. “TribeFest showed us the weather is not going to keep our fans out.”
Asked if he would be leading cheers in his new “Brohio” section, 117, Swisher said, “Opening Day, I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Mike Aviles was scratched from the lineup against the Diamondbacks with lower back soreness and Brantley (batting .522 this spring) was given the day off. They were replaced in the lineup by Matt Carson in left field and Nyjer Morgan in center. … Francona said he expects the regulars to play in today’s 9:10 p.m. exhibition game against the San Diego Padres at the University of San Diego, but said they won’t stay in for long on Saturday at 4:10 p.m.
The Indians finished the Arizona portion of the spring schedule with a 19-8-2 record after a 3-2 victory over the Diamondbacks, but Francona doesn’t put much stock in that success.
“Sometimes you have guys competing for jobs or some younger players who are ready to play, that kind of helps your record because they’re playing the end of the games,” Francona said. “It means we’ve played pretty good baseball, which I love. I don’t care who we’re putting out there, I’d much rather win.”
Francona liked what he saw from right-hander Corey Kluber (1-1, 5.60 ERA), who pitched seven innings. He gave up two runs on five hits, striking out seven and walking one.
“Every outing he goes one more inning,” Francona said. “That’s a normal progression for a good pitcher. The good news for us is he got to the seventh. He looks really good.”
Jason Kipnis (.353) and Morgan (.233) went 2-for-3 with an RBI and David Murphy (.184) added an RBI double.
Marla Ridenour can be reached at email@example.com. Read the her blog at https://ohio.com/marla. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.