They drafted him in the fourth round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft. He worked his way through the farm system before he started to show his potential in the big leagues in '07, when he hit .277 with 18 stolen bases in 119 at-bats.
But the Phillies traded him to Houston that November to acquire Brad Lidge, whose season of perfection helped the Phillies win the 2008 World Series. Bourn eventually blossomed into an All-Star, but as he hit free agency last fall, he could not help but wonder if the Phillies would be interested in a reunion.
Bourn heard from some of his former teammates during the 2012 season, asking if he might come back, but he knew that was just talk. The people controlling the purse strings make those types of decisions.
"I think I might have been on their hit list," Bourn said Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park. "I don't know how high or what their target was, or if they were worried about what Scott [Boras] was going to do. There are a lot of teams that say they want you to be part of their organization, but you don't know if they really do. You have a whole bunch of teams that say they're interested. But when it comes down to it, there's about three or four of them. Really, two."
The Phillies had interest in Bourn, but not at his original asking price, believed to be considerably higher than the four-year, $48 million deal he eventually signed with Cleveland in January. Had the Phillies not acquired Ben Revere from the Twins in December, the Phillies might have made a late run at Bourn in January, but that never happened.
The Indians are happy to have him. Bourn is a tremendous defensive center fielder and has a .348 on-base percentage from 2009 through this season. He is also hitting .293 with a .359 on-base percentage in 64 plate appearances this year.
That type of production would look pretty good atop the Phillies' lineup. Phillies leadoff hitters entered the night with a .273 on-base percentage, which ranked 27th in baseball.
Bourn said he expects Revere to adjust. Revere, who did not start Tuesday against the Indians, is hitting .400 (8-for-20) with three walks in his last eight games.
"Getting adjusted to play in Philly is different," Bourn said. "When you come here, it's different. They want you to do everything right now. That's the only advantage I would have had, because I've played here before. But I'm really happy [in Cleveland].
"Yeah, I guess the Phillies were interested a little bit. But that's not how it went down."