3/4/2014 4:38 P.M. ET
Indians expect healthy, disruptive Bourn
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians signed Michael Bourn last spring to serve as a disruptive force atop the lineup. Cleveland saw that at times during the season, but the center fielder fought a handful of injuries and experienced a considerable drop-off in stolen bases.
The Indians are expecting a solid comeback campaign this time around for Bourn, who is now a little more familiar with the American League and its pitchers. The fleet-footed outfielder is also healthy again after undergoing surgery on his left hamstring in October.
Indians manager Terry Francona said he is confident that Bourn will do everything he can to return to form this summer.
"One [reason] is his familiarity, which I know is very important to him," Francona said. "Saying that, he's still coming off some surgery this winter that he needs to work into. He's working on his bunting a lot. You'll probably see him do that a lot in Spring Training games. He understands his importance at the top of our order. The one thing is he's as conscientious as anybody you're ever going to find."
True to Francona's word, Bourn used a sacrifice bunt to move Mike Aviles from first to second base in the third inning of Tuesday's 5-4 win over the White Sox.
In 130 games last season, the 31-year-old Bourn turned in a .263/.316/.360 slash line with 33 extra-base hits, 23 stolen bases and 75 runs scored. He missed time between April and May with a right index finger injury and sustained a left hamstring strain in the final game of the regular season. On Oct. 15 in Dallas, Dr. Dan Cooper performed a distal hamstring debridement on the center fielder.
Bourn's numbers represented a noticeable drop from his typical production. Across the 2009-12 seasons, he turned in a .280/.348/.378 slash line to go along with an average of 42 extra-base hits, 54 stolen bases and 93 runs scored between stints with the Astros and Braves.
Francona believes that Bourn's stolen-base numbers will rise in 2014.
"I do think they will," Francona said. "He's worked so hard. I think his gait is really good. I don't see him favoring anything. But again, I don't want to get stuck on looking at a number, because if he's on base, and he's scoring runs and he's disrupting the game, that's what we're looking for."
Rebuilt Pestano appears street-ready in first outing
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Vinnie Pestano comes up with a conditioning goal each offseason. Last year, the Indians reliever focused on strengthening his legs. Two years ago, Pestano concentrated on building up his upper body.
Pestano showed up leaner this spring after deciding to use this past winter to give himself an overhaul.
"It's always been about, 'What's one thing I can do to really focus on the offseason and try to get better?'" Pestano explained. "Going into this offseason, when I told myself I was going to take a lot of time off, it was kind of like a car that had a different color door on, and a different spoiler, and it's got a bunch of patchwork on it."
"And, the next thing you know, it's just [an ugly] looking car. So I was like, 'Do I want to do that? Do I want to keep adding parts on the car? Or, do I want to just strip the car and try to start new?' So I stripped the car."
The long and short of Pestano's analogy is that he traded what he considered "bad weight" for "good weight" this offseason. The right-hander needed a mental break after experiencing the most trying season of his career in 2013, but he also felt he needed to get himself in better physical condition to help find himself again on the mound.
Last season, Pestano turned in a career-high 4.08 ERA in 37 games, dealt with a right elbow injury, faced a demotion to Triple-A and lost his job as Cleveland's main setup man. That all came after Pestano turned in a 2.32 ERA (67 games) and 2.57 ERA (70 games), respectively, in the 2011 and '12 seasons.
Pestano said his most recent weigh-in had him at 206 pounds, which is 10-15 pounds lighter than recent springs.
"I'm still a car,' Pestano said with a slight laugh. "I'm still a car with a lot of city miles on it. Same engine. Same foundation. Just better parts."
If Monday's seven-pitch outing against the Rangers was any indication, Pestano could be on the cusp of a comeback. The right-hander breezed through his first game action of the spring, providing the pitcher and the Indians with a promising starting point as he fights for a bullpen spot.
"It'll be interesting to see where this goes from here," Indians manager Terry Francona said, "because [Monday] was really encouraging."
Indians hire former pitcher as replay coordinator
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians have found their point man for instant replay.
On Tuesday, Cleveland announced that it has hired Gregg Langbehn to serve as the club's Major League replay coordinator. As part of baseball's new instant-replay system, Langbehn's duties will involve monitoring plays in the clubhouse and relaying information to the dugout.
"It'll be our responsibility to communicate with him in a timely fashion," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "And then we make our own decisions."
Langbehn, 43, spent eight years as a Minor League pitcher with the Mets, Red Sox and Brewers before moving into coaching and managing. He held various roles in Houston's farm system from 2001-08, during which he worked with Indians field coordinator Tom Wiedebauer and Alex Eckelman, who is now the advance scouting coordinator for Cleveland.
Over the past five years, Langbehn worked as the manager of the Traverse City Beach Bums in the independent Frontier League.
"We talked all winter about what qualities are you looking for," Francona said. "He's been a basketball referee, he's been a football referee and he's been a Minor League manager. We thought those were pretty good qualities. For the longest time we talked about, 'OK, is the technical [side] more important or the baseball part? We spent a significant amount of time talking about it."
Francona said there will be a learning curve for everyone under the new replay rules, which give a manager the ability to challenge a ruling. That makes Langbehn's job an important one, because there will be times when Francona will need to leave the dugout to argue while it is being assessed whether to challenge is in order.
"If there's something going on, I'm going to have to go out on the field," Francona said. "There's some instances where, if it's the third out of an inning, you need to go out to show the umpire you're thinking about it. If you don't, you lose your chance. There's some learning to do for sure."
Quote to note
"What I think you're going to see, especially early in games, you're not going to see the big blow-ups, because there really isn't anything to blow up about. You can either challenge it or not. You can go out and ask."
-- Francona, on how instant replay might change arguing with umpires
• Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer averaged 92.8 mph in his four big league starts with the Tribe last season. During his two-inning Cactus League outing against the Mariners on Sunday, Bauer sat around 93-96 mph and hit 98 mph on one pitch, according to a National League scout in attendance.
• First baseman David Cooper cleared waivers and will return to camp with the Indians as a non-roster invitee. Cleveland designated Cooper for assignment on Sunday after acquiring infielder Justin Sellers from the Dodgers in exchange for cash considerations.
• On Tuesday, the Indians signed seven of their rostered players who have fewer than three years of service time. Cleveland reached deals with third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, left-handers T.J. House and Colt Hynes, and right-handers Austin Adams, Corey Kluber, C.C. Lee and Bryan Shaw.
• Right-hander Shaun Marcum (coming back from surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday and again on Saturday. ... Righty Matt Capps (right shoulder strain) is at least a week away from resuming a throwing program. ... Righty Frank Herrmann (Tommy John surgery on throwing elbow last spring) will throw a simulated game on Friday.
• Indians infielder Jose Ramirez, who is returning from offseason surgery on his left thumb, made his first game appearance of the spring in a "B" game against the Angels on Tuesday morning. Ramirez sliced a single to left field in his first plate appearance.