Best Shape of His Life is not the only harbinger of spring. There’s “[Player] is poised for a big year,” which often comes after he’s had a crappy one. There’s “[Pitcher] is working on a new pitch,” which often comes after the pitcher has had a crappy year and/or lost velocity. Note: that link has the new pitch, the “poised for a big year” AND an “added 20 pounds of muscle”/BSOHL thing. They’re covering all the bases in Detroit.
But another one is the thing about running more. Normally it’s a new manager talking about how his underwhelming team plans to run more, focus on the fundamentals and that sort of thing. It’s some good old “I’m gonna manage the heck out of this team” rhetoric that makes scribes who have to find something new to write about every boring spring day happy. I’m sure we’ll hear plenty of that starting in late February.
Yesterday we saw a variation on that one: a manager talking about how an individual player is going to run more. Take it away Tito Francona, who says Michael Bourn is going to run more. From the Plain Dealer:
We’ve talked to Bournie a lot,” said Francona. “He’s one of the most conscientious and nicest kids you’ll ever meet. But quite frankly, whether it’s because of injuries or not, he hasn’t been the kind of guy who wreaks the havoc that we kind of envisioned when we signed him when it comes to stolen bases . . . Brad Mills (bench coach) went and watched him workout and said he’s really getting after it. He understands what we need from him. When he gets on base, he has to disrupt the game.”
Bourn, of course, has just 33 total over the last two seasons and has been caught 18 times, which is not a good ratio in case you didn’t know. A lot of that has to do with the fact that he’s had a lot of leg injuries. But he’s also 32 now, and 32-year-olds not named Rickey Henderson tend not to have base stealing, havoc-wreaking and game-disruption as their strong suit.
Of greater concern is Bourn’s .314 and .316 on-base percentages over the past two seasons. That’s way more disruptive to the Indians’ offensive attack than anything his legs can be expected to do to the opposition.