Francona pulls Bourn out of leadoff role
Veteran outfielder to bat lower in order for now
DETROIT -- Michael Bourn has spent the bulk of his career walking into a clubhouse and knowing that his name would be penciled in at the top of the lineup. On Sunday, the veteran saw his name in the ninth spot of the batting order.
Indians manager Terry Francona discussed the change with Bourn after Saturday's loss in Detroit.
"It is going to be weird," said Bourn, who maintained his sense of humor in the wake of the drastic change. "I hope I don't go and put on my helmet at the beginning of the game. I'd be embarrassed then."
Bourn made light of the move to Cleveland's nine-hole and expressed confidence in his ability to turn things around offensively after a rough start to the season. Francona made it clear that this decision was one that weighed on him for a while before he actually went ahead and pulled the plug.
For Sunday's game against the Tigers, second baseman Jason Kipnis led off. It marked the first time since June 28, 2011, when Bourn was with the Astros, that he started a game anywhere other than as the leadoff hitter. Francona said he was not sure yet how long he would keep Bourn at the bottom of the batting order.
"I don't usually do things at the drop of a hat," Francona said. "I've been thinking about this. Just because of the way Bourny goes about things, I really wanted to kind of give him every chance before you do something like that. I just felt like after [Saturday's game], maybe as much as I didn't want to do it, I felt like maybe I wasn't doing my job if I didn't do it."
In Saturday's 4-1 loss in Detroit, the 32-year-old Bourn went 0-for-4, dropping his average to .111 (3-for-27) through eight games on the current nine-game road trip. For the season, the center fielder had a .180/.254/.213 slash line with one stolen base in three attempts and six runs scored in 15 games, entering Sunday.
"Sometimes you just catch yourself in a funk. That's what I'm in right now," Bourn said. "I just have to work my way out of it. I don't believe that I'll stay there. Just, for right now, I'm not doing good. I'll take it for what it is and keep on playing."
Bourn, who dealt with hamstring woes throughout last season, added that he has at least been encouraged by how he has felt health-wise.
"I'm very happy with how I feel physically," Bourn said. "I'm happy with my legs. I'm happy with my body, how it feels. I feel strong. I feel fast. ... It's just about getting into a groove with things and getting some hits and stuff like that, trying to cause havoc on the basepaths. Things of that nature. You just have to be confident in yourself. That's all there is to it."