Smoke signals

• The Indians entered this season expecting to have stolen bases as a big part of their offensive game. Heading into Thursday, Cleveland ranked 11th in the American League with only four stolen bases. Part of the issue has been injuries to Michael Bourn and Jason Kipnis, who combined for 73 swipes in the 2012 campaign.

"Some of or games have been lopsided," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "The other thing that I don't think people realize is, when you have team speed, people have to respect that. I think our guys have gotten some pitches to hit in situations, because of our speed. It's not going to show up in a box score, if a pitcher maybe felt inclined to slide step and left a fastball up and somebody hit it. Things like that.

"Our speed -- over the course of a year -- our speed will show up. Teams know we can run and there's been a lot of pitchers that have done a very good job."

• Indians first baseman Nick Swisher went 2-for-4 with a home run in Wednesday's 6-3 loss to the Red Sox, raising his career average to .318 (50-for-157) in 43 games at Progressive Field. Swisher's average in Cleveland ranks third among active players (with at least 40 games). Only Derek Jeter (.359) and Ichiro Suzuki (.332) have better marks at the Tribe's home ballpark.

• Kipnis, who has been sidelined since Saturday with soreness in his left elbow, took part in pregame batting practice on Thursday. Francona said that, barring a setback, the team is hopeful Kipnis will be able to return to the lineup for Friday's road game against the Astros.

• Bourn (on the 15-day disabled list with a right index finger injury) will travel with the team for its upcoming weekend series in Houston. Bourn is able to do lower-body strength and conditioning, and resumed hand exercises on Thursday, according to Francona.

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.