7/3/2013 9:15 P.M. ET
Bourn set to wage steals battle with Kipnis
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
KANSAS CITY -- Heading into this season, it was assumed that Jason Kipnis would be chasing Indians center fielder in stolen bases. As the All-Star break approaches, Bourn is now wondering how soon he will be able to catch Kipnis.
"Man, he's up there. He's up there," Bourn said with a laugh on Wednesday. "That's all right. It's a long season. I've got to figure these pitchers out a little bit. They're treating me a little different this year.
"They're really quick to the plate on me. I'm a basestealer that doesn't like to force the issue unless I really need to."
Entering Wednesday's game against the Royals, Kipnis led Cleveland with 19 stolen bases in 73 games played. Bourn, who missed time earlier this season due to a right thumb injury, had 11 stolen bases through 56 games for the Indians.
In each of the past five seasons, Bourn has had at least 25 stolen bases by the All-Star break.
Bourn said things have been different in the American League.
"[Pitchers] are paying a lot of attention. I'm not exaggerating," Bourn said. "They're like 1.1 [seconds] to the plate, and they keep picking. That means I've got your attention. OK, cool. I don't have to go anywhere if I've got your attention.
"I'm getting picked on, man. They're picking on me. When you get a reputation for it, that happens."
Kipnis led the Tribe with 31 stolen bases a year ago, but Bourn has averaged 54 stolen bases in each of his past four seasons between stints with the Astros and Braves. Bourn believes there is ample time for him to run down Cleveland's second baseman.
"We'll see what happens in the second half," Bourn said with a grin. "I told him it's going to be a competition. It ain't over with yet. I like it. We've got a few people that can run."
Bourn returns to Tribe; lefty Hagadone optioned
KANSAS CITY -- The Indians went undefeated while Michael Bourn was away from the team this week, but they will gladly welcome their center fielder and leadoff man back into the fold. After all, Bourn was only gone for two games.
On Wednesday, Cleveland activated Bourn from Major League Baseball's three-day paternity list and optioned left-handed reliever Nick Hagadone to Triple-A Columbus to clear room on the Tribe's active roster.
Bourn and his girlfriend welcomed a daughter, Blair, into their family.
"Everything is good, man. She's ready to take over the world," Bourn said. "I'm glad to be back and glad to play again."
In 56 games for the Indians this season, Bourn has hit .299 with two home runs, 12 doubles, one triple, 11 stolen bases, 15 RBIs and 33 runs.
Even after optioning Hagadone, the Indians have eight relievers in their bullpen, though only one lefty, Rich Hill. Hagadone has posted a 5.33 ERA in 28 relief appearances this season for Cleveland between four stints in the big leagues. The 27-year-old has also posted a 2.00 ERA in seven outings at Triple-A.
The Indians will need to make another roster move later this week to clear a spot on the roster for Triple-A Columbus right-hander Carlos Carrasco. Indians manager Terry Francona reiterated on Wednesday that the current plan is to recall Carrasco from Triple-A to start against the Tigers on Saturday in Cleveland.
"We've got to make another move Saturday for Carrasco," Francona said. "So obviously Nick was going to have to go at some point. Taking that into consideration, just to cover every single base, if [starter Scott Kazmir's] back did act up on him, we've got Joe [Martinez], who has been starting [in Triple-A]."
Francona disagrees with Gardy on plate play
KANSAS CITY -- Indians manager Terry Francona would never want a player of his to do something on the field that could be considered a dirty play. If something like that happened, Francona would pick up the phone, call the other club's manager and apologize.
Francona does not see any reason to do so with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, whom the Indians manager said he respects immensely.
During his 1500 ESPN radio show on Sunday, Gardenhire said he took exception to a play involving Indians catcher Yan Gomes and Minnesota's Ryan Doumit in Cleveland's 5-3 loss on June 23. In Gardenhire's view, Gomes blocked home plate without the ball in hand and Doumit sprained an ankle while attempting to score.
"I went back and looked, I'd bet you, 15-20 times," Francona said on Wednesday. "To be quite frank, I don't see that. I looked at it from every angle and Gomer never blocked the plate, and the throw took him from [one side to the other], but he still never blocked the plate. There was no contact.
"The kid [Doumit] stepped on home and it looked like he twisted his ankle, but Gomer never touched him and he never blocked the plate. I've known Gardy a long time, and that's part of the reason I went and looked at it so much.
"If it would've been something, I would've given him a call, but I can't find anything. I don't see anything there."
The play took place in the ninth inning, when Oswaldo Arcia doubled down the left-field line to bring Doumit home. The Twins catcher had to maneuver around Gomes and appeared to miss the plate, but he scrambled back and scored before the Indians catcher could tag him out.
Gardenhire felt Gomes put a leg in front of the plate at the last second.
"We had a great view from the dugout," Gardenhire told 1500 ESPN, "and the catcher didn't have the ball and at the last second he stuck his foot back on top of home plate. Just kind of reached out behind him and stuck his foot there before the ball got home. That's kind of one of those not good plays in baseball. [Doumit] ends up spraining his ankle and we were pretty upset about that.
"I was pretty disappointed in that because he ends up hurting my catcher on a silly play and I don't like stuff like that. ... I did not like the way the kid stuck his foot out and tried to trip our guy. That's not good baseball as long as I've been in the game."
Francona did not agree with Gardenhire's assessment.
"The whole plate was open," Francona said.
Quote to note
"I hope he gets voted into the All-Star Game, because he really deserves it. I think he's our No. 1 player right now to get voted into the All-Star Game. Him and [Justin] Masterson. Kip might have the edge. I just hope he does make it. He's playing well, having a great season and it's an honor to go to an All-Star Game."
--Indians center fielder Michael Bourn, on second baseman Jason Kipnis
• Entering Wednesday, the Indians led the Majors in wild pitches (48) and catcher Carlos Santana had been behind the plate for the most wild pitches (33) in baseball. In June, Cleveland had 19 wild pitches. Francona said he has seen improvement of late from Santana when it comes to blocking pitches.
"I think he's gotten himself in a position now where he can show his athleticism," Francona said. "He's working lower, so he's not working up to down, he's working down to up. And it's very noticeable. I give [bench coach and former catcher Sandy Alomar Jr.] a lot of credit and give Carlos a lot of credit."
• On Wednesday, the Indians named High Class A Carolina second baseman Joe Wendle the organization's Minor League Player of the Week for the period of June 24-30. Over that time period, Wendle hit .400 (12-for-30) with two home runs, three doubles, one triple, five RBI and a 1.191 OPS in seven games for the Mudcats.
• Santana turned in a unique game for the Indians in Tuesday's 6-5 win over the Royals, finishing 0-for-1 with one sacrifice fly, two RBIs and three walks. Santana became only the fourth Indians player since at least 1916 to have no hits, two RBIs and three walks in a game, joining Brook Jacoby (Sept. 21, 1989), Dale Mitchell (June 6, 1949) and Odell Hale (June 13, 1936).
• With its win on Tuesday, Cleveland now boasts a Major League-best .720 winning percentage (18-7) in one-run games this season. Over the past five seasons, Cleveland owns baseball's best record (114-87, .567) in games decided by one run.