8/9/2014 5:30 P.M. ET
Tribe mindful of Bourn's health, not stats, in Minors
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- The last thing Indians manager Terry Francona is looking at right now is Michael Bourn's batting average. The center fielder's health is far more important than the early offensive results from his Minor League rehab assignment.
Through three games with Double-A Akron, the reports have been that Bourn's left hamstring is feeling much improved. The fact that Bourn has gone 0-for-10 in the batter's box in those contests is close to irrelevant, as far as Francona is concerned.
"The early stage, I don't care about the hitting," Francona said on Saturday. "We want him to see pitches. To be honest with you, if he goes 8-for-10, that's not going to matter a week from now with us. There's a progression of him seeing pitches and getting comfortable.
"When he gets to us, he might be 1-for-20, but if that last couple at-bats he feels good? Good."
Bourn, who has been on the 15-day disabled list with the hamstring injury since July 6, was scheduled to work out with Double-A Akron on Saturday. The center fielder will then play again with Akron on Sunday before moving his rehab to Triple-A Columbus on Monday. Bourn will likely play a handful of games at Triple-A before potentially being activated.
The one concern Francona does have about Bourn, who has had multiple issues with his left hamstring since late last season, is that the center fielder could be hesitant to steal bases for Cleveland. Bourn stole 257 bags (more than 50 per season) from 2008-12, with an 81 percent success rate. In two years (196 games) with the Indians, he had 30 steals in 45 attempts (67 percent).
Bourn's history as a base thief played a large role in Cleveland's decision to sign him to a four-year, $48 million deal prior to last season.
"I guess we kind of walk a fine line there," Francona said, "because we do value the stolen-base percentage, because that's important. But one of his strengths is being able to change a game with his legs. I'm a little bit careful of what I say to him, because I don't want him just to run into outs, but him running the bases is a big, big weapon for us. It could help us.
"It'd be nice to see him fully healthy and feeling confident. You saw kind of what [Billy] Hamilton could do the other day [for the Reds]. It can change a game."
Many facets to Ramirez's growth with Tribe
NEW YORK -- After trading long-time shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to the Nationals at the end of last month, the Indians made it clear that they wanted to take a close look at infield prospect Jose Ramirez. So far, Cleveland has liked what it has seen defensively from the youngster, considered its No. 6 prospect by MLB.com.
"I've thought Jose has played very well at shortstop," Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said. "I think we've seen his range and he's got a really good clock, where he's got a great feel for who the hitter is and how quick he's getting down the line and making sure he gets the ball there on time. I've thought he's done a good job."
With Cabrera no longer in the picture, Cleveland has used a mix of the 21-year-old Ramirez and veteran utility man Mike Aviles at shortstop. Having Ramirez holding his own at short has also allowed the Indians to keep top prospect Francisco Lindor (currently at Triple-A Columbus) on a steady development path.
Through his first 26 games in the big leagues this season, Ramirez has hit just .205 in 73 at-bats, but he collected his first big league homer in the second inning of Saturday's game, hitting a two-run drive off Brandon McCarthy to begin a 3-for-4 day. Ramirez's offensive potential was on full display earlier this year at Triple-A, where the switch-hitter posted a .302 average with 19 stolen bases, 22 extra-base hits, 29 RBIs and 37 runs in 60 games.
The Indians believe they have a solid infielder on their hands in Ramirez, but Cleveland manager Terry Francona said the development goes beyond just the playing field.
"We've been on him a lot about learning English," Francona said. "Even though it's not fair, the more he speaks English, the better it's going to make him. It's really hard to communicate with him. Like, the other day, I was taking him out of the game in a double switch. He didn't understand, and Carlos [Santana] had to tell him. He worked hard when he was in Triple-A, and we're trying to do it now.
"You're trying to develop a young player. You can't just wind him up and send him out there. We need to be able to coach, and it's a little harder. And it has to be on him mostly. Heck, we can dabble in Spanish, but he's going to play here. So we're really trying as an organization to kind of make it a priority for him, because I'm not sure that's always how he viewed it."
Quote to note
"It was pretty darn good. The clubhouse guys said they were banging kegs out there. I wouldn't have known it. I was out cold, man. I just woke up and didn't know where I was."
-- Indians manager Terry Francona, on sleeping on the couch in the visiting manager's office at Yankee Stadium on Friday night
• Indians outfielder Michael Brantley, who has been dealing with general leg soreness, was slotted into the lineup on Saturday as the designated hitter for the second straight game. Francona said he would wait until Sunday to decide whether to give Brantley a third game at DH.
"I just think it'll do him some good," Francona said of the rest. "He's played a lot of baseball. It seems like he's on base two or three times a game, and he's stealing, going first to third, running down everything in center field. I just think it'd be really good for him."
• Left-hander Nick Hagadone turned in 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief on Friday, giving him a 1.84 ERA through 18 appearances this season. Entering Saturday, Hagadone had a 0.73 ERA with a .146 opponents' batting average in his last 13 games (12 1/3 innings).
"He is trying to earn more innings when the game's on the line," Francona said. "I think he's been really good. ... He's handling things, and it's pretty exciting, because he's so durable. He's not a matchup lefty. You can bring him in and, when he's pitching well, leave him in."
• In the first inning of Friday's 10-6 loss, second baseman Jason Kipnis used his glove to flip the ball to Ramirez, but the relay sailed wildly beyond the bag for an error that allowed a run to score. Francona said Kipnis' decision was the right one.
"I know that those always look bad," Francona said. "I don't know how else he could've got the ball there. You can't eat it. That's the second time it kind of stuck in his glove. The way the play ends, you're like, 'Oh boy.' But I don't know if he had another play."