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Cleveland Indians' Michael Bourn cuts finger in play at first; no timetable for return

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Late in today's game, Michael Bourn reached first base just before Matt Thornton reached the base. However, in the process, Matt Thornton stepped on Bourn's hand.

Jason Miller

In the eighth inning of today's game, Bourn hit a sharp grounder down the right field line; Adam Dunn fielded it, but stumbled in the process. Meanwhile White Sox pitcher was running over to cover first base. That delay by Dunn allowed Bourn to reach base first via a head-first slide. But in the process, Thornton stepped on Bourn's right hand (video at the link), causing a nasty laceration on his index finger that would require five stitches. Bourn left immediately to get it looked after.

After the game Terry Francona had this to say about the play at first and whether the head-first slide was the right decision:

"I think you play the game," Francona said. "I knew that was going to get asked. I think guys are competing and, again, you don't want to see anybody get hurt, but he's doing his best to get to first. ... Sometimes, when you're trying to beat a pitcher, that's your best way to get to the bag."

Bourn described the slide as the only option he had to beat the throw:

"Yeah," Bourn said. "I had that happen to me before where somebody was coming over there and the left-hander tagged me with the glove, because his glove is right there. I knew the only way to make that not happen again was to slide. I was just trying to get to the bag before he did. I was able to do that, but I got hurt in the process."

In other words, the slide was made conscientiously. After watching the replay again, I don't think Bourn had much of a choice either; he either slid under the tag, or he'd be out. In a close game, you have applaud Bourn for selling out and trying to get on base, as he represented the tying run. Thankfully the cut was the only injury Bourn sustained with all the other possibilities (dislocated finger, ligament damage, broken bone) that could have happened from the play.

The Indians haven't set any timetable for Bourn's return, but you'd have to think that he'll miss at least the next 2-3 games while the cut heals. And with this being early in the season, the Indians aren't going to want to rush Bourn back to the lineup. So that means we'll be seeing Drew Stubbs in center field, with either Nick Swisher or Ryan Raburn playing in right. The Indians have the flexibility on their 25-man roster to handle Bourn being out for the next series without having to DL him or make a roster move. If they needed another outfielder from AAA, Tim Fedroff would be the logical (and really, only) choice, as he can play all three outfield positions and is on the 40-man roster. But hopefully Bourn misses just misses the Boston series and will be available when the Indians travel to Houston.

One caveat, though. Jason Kipnis' status is still uncertain, so if he's not ready by Tuesday, the Indians may feel the need to call up Fedroff, as the healthy bench would down to three players, including Omir Santos. The most likely move would be Gomes to AAA, Fedroff to Cleveland.