Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Kearns shelved for rest of season

Reds outfielder to undergo shoulder surgery

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Dave Miley getting the Reds' managerial job is starting to fall under the careful-what-you-wish-for category.

The Reds got the expected bad news when the club announced that Austin Kearns will have season-ending shoulder surgery Thursday.

Just a week ago, today was considered the day that Kearns, who has been on the disabled list since July 19, would return to the lineup.

"It would have been nice to have Kearnsie back," Miley said. "We know what he can do when he's healthy."

Kearns hasn't been healthy in a long time. That's why Monday's news was no surprise. Kearns has been bothered by the shoulder since Atlanta's Ray King fell on him when Kearns was trying to score on a wild pitch.

Kearns first tried to play through the pain. He then spent a month rehabbing. But three games into a rehab assignment at Double-A Chattanooga, he had to shut it down because of the pain.

A healthy Kearns - he was among the National League RBI leaders when he was first hurt - is just what the offensively inept Reds could use right now.

They just completed a six-game road trip in which they scored a total of six runs in five losses and were shut out twice.

It doesn't get any easier.

"We all know what we're facing." Miley

The Reds open a six-game homestand tonight with the first of three against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Houston Astros follow the D'Backs.

After an off day Aug. 18, the Reds go to Arizona for three, followed by three in Houston.

Those are two teams the Reds haven't exactly torn it up against.

In fact, the Reds have lost their last 24 games against the D'Backs and Astros.

The Reds have lost 14 in a row to the Diamondbacks dating to May 2001. That's the longest losing streak against one team since the Reds lost 16 in a row to the Chicago Cubs in 1944 and '45.

The Reds haven't been much better against the Astros. The Reds beat the Astros in the first meeting between the teams this year on April 8. The Reds have lost 10 straight to the Astros since, including back-to-back four-game sweeps just before and after the All-Star break. Those sweeps put an end to the Reds' pennant hopes.

The Reds are just trying to salvage something from a lost year.

It's been difficult because injuries and trades have left the Reds with a makeshift lineup.

Kearns, who hit .264 with 15 home runs and 58 RBI in 82 games, is the third outfielder the Reds have lost in the last 3 1/2 weeks. Ken Griffey Jr. went out with a season-ending ankle injury July 18. Jose Guillen was traded to Oakland July 31.

Additionally, third baseman Aaron Boone was traded to the Yankees the day after Guillen was traded.

That's put Brandon Larson, Reggie Taylor, Wily Mo Pena and Ruben Mateo in key offensive roles.

Mateo has hit fairly well (.286 since being called up July 18), and Pena is hitting .304 in six starts.

But Taylor (3-for-32) and Larson (3-for-17) have struggled.

With Adam Dunn (2-for-24, no RBI since July 30) and Jason LaRue (1-for-13) struggling as well, the middle of the lineup has been dreadful.

That's been magnified by the fact the top three in the order continue to hit.

D'Angelo Jimenez is 7-for-his-last-17. Barry Larkin has hit .555 over a five-game hitting streak. Sean Casey had a five-game hitting streak ended until he lined out while pinch-hitting on Sunday.

A healthy Kearns makes all the difference. Before the injury: 45 games, .309 average, 13 HR and 44 RBI. After the injury: 37 games, .208 average, 2 HR and 14 RBI.

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