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Bourn struggling amid worst month of career

MLB.com @MLBastian

KANSAS CITY -- A little over a week ago, Michael Bourn's struggles at the plate cost him his role as the Indians' leadoff hitter. On Tuesday, Bourn was informed by manager Terry Francona that he will be sitting on the bench against left-handed pitching for the time being.

It has been a big adjustment for the 10-year veteran.

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KANSAS CITY -- A little over a week ago, Michael Bourn's struggles at the plate cost him his role as the Indians' leadoff hitter. On Tuesday, Bourn was informed by manager Terry Francona that he will be sitting on the bench against left-handed pitching for the time being.

It has been a big adjustment for the 10-year veteran.

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"It's probably the worst month of my career," Bourn said on Wednesday afternoon. "This year, I didn't think this was going to happen. But, hey, that's sports. That's the unknown. I had a very good Spring Training. I felt good coming into the season. Then the season started and it didn't work out like that. I just have to continue to work at it."

Bourn, who sat out Tuesday's series opener against Royals southpaw Jason Vargas, was on the bench again for the middle game with lefty Danny Duffy on the mound. Francona met with the 32-year-old center fielder prior to Tuesday's game to discuss the situation, and emphasized that the club will see a slew of right-handed pitching in the coming weeks.

Given Bourn's veteran status, Francona said benching him was not an easy decision.

"I knew I had to talk to Bourny yesterday. I probably laid in bed and thought about it for hours," Francona said on Wednesday. "I knew what I needed to do, but it doesn't mean I looked forward to it. I get to see how he prepares. Everything that we believe in, he does. He really does.

"He couldn't be more professional," he added later. "I really don't want him sitting the bench. I don't think in the long run that's going to help us. I just think sometimes there's going to be some guys that have to give a little bit right now to make this roster work."

Through 23 games this season, Bourn has hit just .193 with a .260 on-base percentage and only two stolen bases. What has been especially frustrating for the center fielder is the fact that the results on the field have not followed how he feels physically. After dealing with hamstring woes last season, Bourn trained hard over the winter to strengthen his legs and correct his running form.

"Physically, I feel very good. Results happen like that sometimes," Bourn said. "I've played this game long enough to know. Sometimes you've got to ride the wave. I've been real hot at times and I've been real cold at times. I've also been very consistent a lot of times. Right now, I was real cold."

Asked if he hoped to return to the leadoff spot this season, Bourn said that it's not his call, and he was quick to praise Jason Kipnis' showing at the top of the order.

"That's up to [Francona], man," Bourn said. "I don't write the lineup -- I can't do that -- and Kip's been doing good in the leadoff spot. I know in baseball, whatever's rolling is what they're going to go with. You have to go with that part of it and he's doing a good job in the leadoff spot. Of course I like hitting leadoff, but I'll hit wherever he wants me to hit."

Bourn also does not think his skills have diminished.

"No, [they] haven't," he said. "My speed is still there. I am actually feeling stronger now than I did when I was younger. ... I don't have anything to blame it on. I don't have one thing I can say, 'This is it.' I take responsibility for it. I can look myself in the mirror and say, 'That just happened.' I don't have any excuses for it, but I know I can still play. I know that much. I can tell you that. Every day."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.

Cleveland Indians, Michael Bourn