GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Michael Bourn has been to major league spring training camp before, many times, and has played baseball for most of his life. And yet, during his first day with the Cleveland Indians, Bourn looked like a lost high school freshman at times.
Bourn and the Indians agreed to a four-year, $48 million contract earlier in the week, but the deal didn't become official until Friday, when Cleveland also had its first full-squad workout. So, after an offseason that must have dragged for Bourn, he had to rush to catch up.
"[The process] taught me patience, but I landed in a spot I was wanted," Bourn said after the workout at a press conference with his 3-year-old son, Bryson, bouncing on his knee.
Minutes after passing a physical, signing a contract and putting on his new uniform for the first time, Bourn was racing — mentally and physically — trying to learn the layout of the practice fields at Cleveland's spring training facility. Not only was he in a strange place, but he had only a faint idea of where he was supposed to go. And having played formerly with the Braves, Astros and Phillies, he was used to the Grapefruit League.
"This is my first time ever in Arizona," said Bourn, who turned 30 in December.
As coach Tom Wiendenbauer looked down at a packet of papers, he scanned for names and assignments. The name of Michael Brantley, another outfielder, came up, so Wiendenbauer said: "M.B., you go over to field ['X'] for batting practice."
Bourn gave a quizzical look. "Which one?"
Weidenbauer had realized his mistake and apologized. "Michael Brantley. I usually say M.B."
Breaking out in good-natured laughter, Bourn said: "That ain't going to work anymore!"
There's another M.B. in town, Cleveland. Another coach, Sandy Alomar, came over and helped point Bourn to the right practice field. The rest of practice seemed to go smoothly for him.
Afterward, Bourn and agent Scott Boras were asked about the moves Indians GM Chris Antonetti made this offseason, spending a combined $117 million on free agents such as Nick Swisher, Brett Myers, Mark Reynolds and Bourn. They also made two big trades. In the previous two offseasons, the Indians spent a combined $8.3 million — total — on major league free agents. In December 2010, their stingy ways prompted Boras to say the Indians were a "developmental team."
Thanks to an infusion of cash from a local TV deal and a willingness to spend it, that's over.
"In baseball, you're trying to win or you're trying to rebuild — it's one or the other," Bourn said. "I know what they're trying to do, they're trying to win."