Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Bourn ready to tackle dual role in camp

Braves counting on veteran outfielder to mentor prospect Smith while competing for own spot
MLB.com @mlbbowman

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Michael Bourn came to Spring Training with the understanding that he will be expected to serve as a mentor to fleet-footed prospect Mallex Smith, who could become Atlanta's center fielder at some point in the near future.

But as Bourn prepares for what will be his 11th full season at the Major League level, he is looking to prove he also still has something to offer on the field.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Michael Bourn came to Spring Training with the understanding that he will be expected to serve as a mentor to fleet-footed prospect Mallex Smith, who could become Atlanta's center fielder at some point in the near future.

But as Bourn prepares for what will be his 11th full season at the Major League level, he is looking to prove he also still has something to offer on the field.

Spring Training: Schedule | Tickets | More info

"I'll try to teach guys little things or show them how to prepare," Bourn said. "But at the same time, I came to play."

While playing for the Braves during the latter portion of the 2011 season and again in '12, Bourn served as a clubhouse leader and a valuable mentor to Jason Heyward. The Braves are confident that he can still provide value in these roles. The only difference is that now they want him to place his focus on Smith. The 22-year-old draws some similarities to the younger version of Bourn, who recorded at least 40 stolen bases during each of his first four full big league seasons (2008-11).

Video: MLB Rookie Prg: Mallex Smith, ATL, OF

Bourn hopes to pass on some of the lessons he learned when he was a young Phillies prospect who learned how to get better jumps while working with highly-regarded coach Davey Lopes.

"I know [Smith] is fast," Bourn said. "We'll get to learn from each other and talk to each other. He'll try to pick my brain a little bit and I'll help him out. I'll also try to help him learn that you have to learn yourself. That's one thing I learned about myself. You can look at everybody else play. But nobody is you and nobody is made up like you are. So you have to work your own craft."

Though the Braves already have a left-handed-hitting center fielder in Ender Inciarte, manager Fredi Gonzalez seems committed to providing a roster spot to Bourn, who has produced a .634 OPS and totaled just 27 stolen bases over the past two seasons.

The Braves signed Emilio Bonifacio to serve as a right-handed complement to Inciarte. But Gonzalez still sees the value Bourn could provide as a clubhouse leader and a veteran backup who could serve as a left-handed complement to Hector Olivera in left field.

"[Bourn] only cares about one thing, he cares about baseball," Gonzalez said. "He brings that work ethic. He's not into the cars, commercials or all the other stuff that gets in the way. This guy just cares about playing the game of baseball."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.

 

Atlanta Braves