Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Kearns back, feels good at plate

Reds notebook

By Kevin Kelly
Enquirer staff writer

A small patch of white tape covered the scar, but Austin Kearns' right thumb has healed sufficiently enough.

The Reds reinstated the right fielder from the 60-day disabled list Tuesday and wasted no time getting him back into the starting lineup.

Austin Kearns sits in the dugout before the Reds' game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park Tuesday.
(Enquirer photo/Jeff Swinger)
In his first start since May 28—and first Reds game, period, since June 1—Kearns batted sixth against the Cardinals.

"It's nice to be putting on a uniform for a reason," he said. "Not to just go and sit."

The thumb injury landed Kearns on the disabled list June 8 and eventually required surgery to remove a bone spur, scar tissue and a lesion July 2. He also missed 18 games after suffering a broken left forearm in late April.

"Some days are better than others," said Kearns, who entering Tuesday had played in just 28 games this season. "Some days it bothers me more than usual. I guess that's expected. I think it will be like that until I get to rest it for an extended period of time."

Kearns batted .195 in those 28 games but performed well during a 15-game rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Louisville. He batted .320 with seven RBI for the Bats.

"I felt pretty good at the plate. Probably as good as I felt all year," Kearns said. "I haven't had much of a year but was feeling pretty good. Hopefully I can keep that feeling up and things will continue to go well."

QUICK TURNAROUND: To make room for Kearns on the 25-man roster, pitcher Matt Belisle was optioned to Louisville. Belisle was called up Friday but did not appear in a game.

BACK TO WORK: Starting pitcher Paul Wilson, who is eligible to come off the 15-day DL on Sunday, threw his second bullpen session Tuesday.

Wilson went on the DL on Aug. 14 with lower back soreness, and is scheduled to throw another bullpen Thursday.

"Everything felt fine," he said. "I hope to be back soon. (Everybody) knows how I don't like the DL stuff."

TOE TOUCHES: It doesn't sound like much of an accomplishment, but closer Danny Graves was able to bend over and touch his toes Tuesday.

"I feel like I'm getting better," he said.

Graves is on the DL at least until Sept. 3 because of back spasms he experienced while pitching to Cardinals outfielder Reggie Sanders on Aug. 18.

He struck out Sanders and got one more out for his 37th save in a 5-4 Reds win.

"I guess I had the blood flowing, adrenaline, I really don't know," Graves said. "I know next time if it happens I'm not going to stay in. I'm pretty sure I made it worse by staying in."

WORK ORDER: Graves distributed a bundle of work shirts he ordered from Cintas to teammates and clubhouse personnel.

Each button-down, short-sleeved shirt was adorned with two patches - one with the recipient's first name or nickname and the other with a fictitious company name's like Cowboy, Inc. (catcher Jason LaRue), Bud's Tool and Tackle (Wilson) and Gravey's Tattoo and Piercing.

ODDS AND ENDS: Reds relief pitcher Mike Matthews (left elbow surgery) will begin a rehab assignment tonight in Louisville. ... Outfielder Wily Mo Pena received a cortisone shot for his sprained left wrist Monday and remains day-to-day. ... Relief pitcher Todd Van Poppel rejoined the team Tuesday. Van Poppel's wife, Alecia, gave birth to the couple's third child, Riley Mason, on Friday in Southlake, Texas.

REDS FACT: Cincinnati is 2-8 in its last 10 series and hasn't won a home series since July 19-20 vs. Milwaukee.

Reds statistics

Through Monday's game

Casey .340.3954278014539220803626106
Larkin .307.35630954951537422535204
Freel .281.38338452108155122546625812
Dunn .274.39843181118250367784147415
Lopez .260.32412319321104161136009
Jimenez .256.3544345511119284765761066
LaRue .256.339313418017213412383028
Pena .254.30728436728122571793416
Griffey .253.351300497618020604467101
Castro .242.27424028581823191141107
Cruz .235.3161191828603231034000
Valentin .224.2861521534715161326004
Larson .212.3041181325603141435105
Bragg .205.27939783023413000
Kearns .195.327871017213131630111
Romano .154.21426340013210000
Vander Wal .154.19539262024216000
Team Totals .254.3344190582106322119154553455982521982

Hudson 113.9722011.11465067
Graves 154.096103761.2683328121138
Norton 134.33550054.055302642536
Riedling 434.35550062.064383063233
Harang 764.4521210119.11326159114295
Wilson 944.5423230142.21577672225192
Wagner 215.06370037.145252142223
Claussen 235.2577036.035242151919
Van Poppel 356.153110093.21106564162060
Acevedo 5106.2626230129.11549290244099
Hancock 316.4594022.128181671013
White 116.75270028.029212111422
Matthews 218.84220018.12319186108
Valentine 019.005118.0788277
Team Totals 59645.24123123391091.21218690636170410728

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