Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Kearns still stuck with Triple-A Louisville



By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Maybe the Reds want to get Austin Kearns enough at-bats to qualify for the International League batting title. Kearns remained on his rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville Tuesday when the Reds opened their three-game series against the Colorado Rockies.

So Kearns was in right field against Buffalo, and Wily Mo Pena was in right field against Colorado.

The Reds players were surprised that Kearns hasn't been recalled.

PHOTO GALLERY
photo gallery
Photos of Tuesday's game
"Very surprised," Adam Dunn said. "He is, too. I talked to him. He's feeling great. We need him here. He's not helping us down there."

Kearns has been on the disabled list since April 28 after breaking his left forearm. Since Kearns was struggling at the time of the injury - he was hitting .137 - Reds general manager Dan O'Brien wanted him to find his hitting stroke before he returned to the big leagues.

The numbers say he has. After Louisville's game Tuesday, when he went 0-for-2 with three walks and three runs, Kearns is hitting .357 with two home runs, three doubles and eight RBI in eight games for the Bats. His slugging percentage was .808 and his on-base percentage was .448.

"Going on the DL might have been a blessing in disguise," Dunn said. "He had a lot more going on than people know."

In addition to coming off Aug. 14 shoulder surgery, he was dealing with a pulled oblique muscle.

"He's 100 percent healthy now," Sean Casey said.

Casey was as surprised as Dunn that Kearns wasn't called up.

"We're talking about Austin Kearns," Casey said. "He's one of the best hitters in baseball."

The Colorado series would have seemed like a perfect time to have Kearns, the club's best right-handed power bat, rejoin the club. The Rockies started left-hander Shawn Estes Tuesday night and they're starting Joe Kennedy, another lefty, Thursday.

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E-mail jfay@enquirer.com




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