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Bourn's steals down, but Francona won't stop him

CLEVELAND -- Michael Bourn has not enjoyed the same kind of success on the basepaths this season that he has grown accustomed to over his career. The last thing the Indians are going to do is tell him to stop running.

"I encourage him to run, because that's part of his game," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Sometimes, what comes with it is you're going to be thrown out. We're the type of team that, if we sit around, especially when we're not really swinging great, it makes it harder for us."

Entering Saturday's game against the Twins, Bourn had been thrown out an American League-leading 10 times in 29 stolen-base attempts this season. His 66-percent success rate is the lowest of his career and the center fielder is on pace to end the year with fewer than 40 thefts for the first time since his rookie season in 2007 (18 stolen bases for the Phillies).

Over the previous five seasons, Bourn led baseball with 257 stolen bases and had an 81-percent success rate during that span with the Astros and Braves.

"He's pretty intelligent," Francona said. "Pitchers in today's game do a very good job, because it's part of the game. One of the first things we look at when we go into a series is who you can run on. ... We're seeing a lot of starters where it's just not the big numbers.

"Teams are noticeably making an effort to stop runners. Now, saying that, I've seen a lot of times where Bourny's on first and whoever's hitting second -- whether it was Swish [Nick Swisher] or Cabby [Asdrubal Cabrera] -- is either getting ahead in the count, because guys are slide-stepping, or they're leaving fastballs up or not throwing their best breaking ball."

Francona downplayed the significance of Bourn's caught-stealing rate this season.

"There's been three or four of those where it's been must-go on a 3-2 count," Francona said. "That's going to happen. We're running with protection. It's a left-hander, he's not going on first move, so we need contact or most likely his chances aren't great."

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