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4/29/2013 10:00 P.M. ET

Indians believe MLB is ready for gay athletes

Veterans like Giambi applaud NBA's Collins for revealing sexual orientation

KANSAS CITY -- Jason Giambi remembers a time not too long ago when having an opening gay teammate might not have gone over too well in a baseball clubhouse. The Indians' veteran believes those days are over.

On Monday, NBA player Jason Collins came out as the first active athlete to be openly homosexual in the four major American pro team sports. The 42-year-old Giambi said he believes Major League Baseball would be ready for a similar revelation from one of its players.

"I applaud him," Giambi said of Collins. "That's probably been weighing on his soul for a long time. I'm happy that he's happy, because life's tough enough. If that's what makes him happy, I'm excited for it. I definitely think times have changed, there's no doubt. There's a place for a gay baseball player, or an alternative lifestyle, however you want to put it. There's room.

"I know this is a good ol' boy's game, but it's definitely changed. Society has changed. People have opened themselves up more to it."

Cleveland reliever Vinnie Pestano called Collins courageous for coming out. The pitcher added that he would have no issues with having a gay teammate.

"If I had a gay teammate," Pestano said, "the only thing I'd worry about is can he hit, if he's a position player. Or does he get outs, if he's a pitcher. That's the only thing that matters to me. What somebody does in their own personal life is their business. It's not going to affect me. That's just how I feel about it."

Indians manager Terry Francona echoed that sentiment.

"I don't know if it's just our game of baseball," Francona said. "I think you're talking about life in general, which is probably more important. I've never thought about it, because if you have an Indians uniform on, and you can hit, or you can pitch, that's what we care about. That, and behaving yourself. That's what's important to me."

Giambi said baseball players might not have been as openly accepting 10-15 years ago.

"There's no doubt it'd be tougher," Giambi said "It was a different game back then. But I think the game is ready."

Bourn, Indians discussing rehab assignment

KANSAS CITY -- A player can only take hitting off a tee and playing catch for so long. Sidelined Indians center fielder Michael Bourn is hoping to get himself back on the field for games in the near future.

Cleveland is currently discussing sending Bourn out on a Minor League rehab assignment.

"I think he wants, when he gets to that point, to maybe play a few games," manager Terry Francona said on Monday. "We kind of talked about that today and he thinks that would be in his best interest. So at some point, we'll explore that. When that is, we don't know yet."

Bourn, who is on the 15-day disabled list, has been out since April 15 due to a right index finger injury. The center fielder has running daily and working through a gradual progression of baseball activities. Bourn has resumed hitting off a tee and said on Monday that he hopes to take normal batting practice within the next few days.

After that step, Bourn might play a handful of Minor League games before being activated by the Indians.

"It's about time to discuss it," Bourn said. "I'm tired of sitting down. Hopefully, I can try to get back quick, but at the same time be smart about it. I don't want to go in there and it's not ready and I have a setback. So far, I haven't had any setbacks.'

Through 10 games this season, Bourn has hit .333 (15-for-45) with two home runs, four doubles, one triple, two RBIs and seven runs scored for the Indians. The center fielder signed a four-year contract worth $48 million with Cleveland over the offseason.

Asdrubal starting to heat things up at plate

KANSAS CITY -- Throughout Asdrubal Cabrera's early-season cold spell at the plate, Indians manager Terry Francona repeatedly said it was only a matter of time before the All-Star shortstop starting heating up.

Cabrera appears to be turning that corner.

"It looks like it," Francona said on Monday. "That's not surprising."

With his 2-for-3 showing against the Royals on Monday, the switch-hitting Cabrera is batting just .225 with two home runs, four doubles, one triple and eight RBIs in 21 games. Over his past eight games, though, the shortstop has hit at a .414 (12-for-29) clip.

Cabrera, who missed last Wednesday's game in Chicago due to a right quad injury, went 5-for-9 in Sunday's doubleheader in Kansas City. Francona said he considered giving Cabrera the second game off, but the shortstop asked to stay in the lineup.

"You're trying to balance work load and things for a doubleheader," Francona said. "He had the quad [injury]. I didn't want to get in the way of him getting hot. Sometimes the manager can get in the way. I didn't want to do that. He really wanted to play that second game. It looks like he's starting to get a little more aggressive with his swings. That's good."

Armed with an 8-0 lead in the sixth inning on Monday, Francona pulled Cabrera from the contest to provide the shortstop with some well-earned rest.

Francona said Cabrera is one player he does not worry too much about when a slump comes on.

"He really knows how to play the game," Francona said. "By that, I mean he sees the field really well. Whether it's moving up on a ball or going first to third. Those types of players, it's like they've got [more than two] eyes. It's a big compliment. He's got a good baseball clock."

Quote to note

"You've only got a certain amount of time to do what you want in your life. Who knows what's going to happen tomorrow? You might as well take advantage of being yourself and being comfortable with it, rather than trying to hide who you are. It's one of the first dominoes to fall, as far as current players. We'll see where everything goes from here. That took a tremendous amount of courage."
--Indians reliever Vinnie Pestano, on NBA player Jason Collins coming out.

Smoke signals

• Indians closer Chris Perez underwent X-rays on his right thumb after being struck on the hand by a comebacker in the ninth inning of Sunday's 10-3 win over the Royals. The images came back clean and Perez was confident he could pitch on Monday, if needed.

"I should be good to go," said Perez, whose thumb was bruised and still a little numb on Monday. "I finished the inning, so I don't see why I couldn't go out there."

• Indians catcher Carlos Santana went 6-for-9 in Sunday's doubleheader with Kansas City to lift his season batting average to .388, which led the Major Leagues entering Monday. As things currently stand, Santana's average would be the highest in April for an Indians catcher, surpassing the .387 mark turned in by Sandy Alomar Jr. in 1997.

• Mike Aviles (Game 2 on Sunday), Jason Giambi (April 20) and Mark Reynolds (April 13) have each enjoyed a five-RBI game this season for the Indians. Entering Monday, that marked the most five-RBI efforts by any team in the Majors this season. Detroit (Prince Fielder and Matt Tuiasosopo) is the only other club with at least two five-RBI showings.

• Triple-A Columbus right-hander Trevor Bauer was scratched from his scheduled start against Pawtucket on Monday. The Indians have confirmed that Bauer (1-0 with a 2.50 ERA in three starts at Triple-A this season) will start Wednesday's game against the Phillies.

• Prior to Monday's game against the Royals, the Indians optioned left-hander Scott Barnes to Triple-A Columbus. Barnes was promoted from Columbus on Sunday to serve as the 26th man on Cleveland's roster for the doubleheader against Kansas City.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.