View Full Version : Notes: Kearns meeting expectations

05-07-2006, 06:48 PM
Notes: Kearns meeting expectations
In lineup every day, outfielder feeling more comfortable
By Jason Grey / Special to MLB.com

PHOENIX -- There were a lot of expectations placed on Austin Kearns after he finished third in the Rookie of the Year balloting in 2002.

After a few seasons of battling through various difficulties, it appears Kearns is finally ready to meet them.

Kearns had a seven-game hit streak, in which he hit .520 (13-for-25), snapped on Saturday night but has gone hitless in consecutive games just once this season. He is among the league leaders in hits, doubles and multi-hit games.

For his part, manager Jerry Narron doesn't think there is much that is different about him this year.

"I really don't think there's a big difference," Narron said. "I don't think he's doing anything different. He knows he's going to be in the lineup close to every day, so that might help him."

That indeed might be the key. When Wily Mo Pena was traded at the end of Spring Training, it assured that Kearns' name would be a fixture on the lineup card.

"I think playing every day has helped a lot," Kearns said. "I'm more relaxed up there and not trying to do too much. It allows you to work through some things if you have a couple of bad games in a row, and in the past it wasn't that way, so you try to take advantage of being out there."

After Kearns' fine 2002 campaign, in which he hit .315 with 13 homers in 102 games, things went downhill, mostly due to injuries.

He suffered a torn labrum and a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder that ended his season early in 2003. A broken left arm and a right thumb injury cost him most of 2004.

Last season, in the midst of a poor start and some concerns about his overall conditioning, he was sent to Triple-A for more than a month. He eventually returned to set career highs in homers and RBIs, giving the Reds hope that they would finally be able to see what a healthy, productive Kearns could do over a full year in the big leagues.

So far, so good.

"I think confidence is the big thing," said the 25-year-old right fielder. "I'm pretty hard on myself when it comes to baseball stuff, and it's easy to be that way, so confidence is a big thing for me."

Resting up: Ryan Freel has struggled recently, with just three hits in his last 24 at-bats to drop his average to .237. Narron thinks he's pressing at the plate a little bit.

"I'm sure he is [pressing]," said Narron. "He's human and he's been struggling and he has to be wanting to hit every time he goes up, but he's going to be fine."

Narron has often talked about making sure that he doesn't overwork Freel, and he gave him the day off on Sunday.

"Over the last three weeks he's played almost every day," Narron said, "and I think it will help him by taking a couple of days off, as much as I like seeing him in the everyday lineup."

Offense and defense: The Reds offense has gained a lot of notoriety through the first month of the season by leading the National League in runs scored. Because of that, it's easy to overlook how well the rotation has been performing. Over the last 10 games, the starters have posted a 2.60 ERA.

"We've pitched well, we really have. I'm tickled to death at the way we've pitched," Narron said.

A special moment: The Reds and Pirates will play in this summer's exhibition Hall of Fame Game in Cooperstown, N.Y., on May 15. The Reds have not played in the game since 1967.

Four-year-old Kobe Stenson, son of the late Reds outfielder Dernell Stenson -- who was killed in Phoenix during the 2003 Arizona Fall League -- will throw out a ceremonial first pitch at the game. Stenson was shot and then run over with his own SUV on Nov. 5, 2003, in what appeared to be a carjacking, but was ultimately determined to be part of a more elaborate robbery scheme. Ken Griffey Jr. will meet with the young boy and asked the Hall of Fame if Kobe could throw the pitch.

Finally nabbed: Felipe Lopez was caught stealing in the first inning of Sunday's game, ending a streak of 11 straight to start the season, the most since Deion Sanders stole 11 in a row to begin the 1997 season. No Reds player had done more than that since Gary Redus went 15-for-15 in 1984.

Did you know? If you believe in omens, the start of the Reds season is a good sign of possible things to come. At 20-11 going into Sunday afternoon's game, the team is off to its best start since the 1995 playoff team began with the same record. Winning 21 of their first 32 games hasn't happened since the 1990 World Series champion club went 24-8.

On deck: Monday is a travel day back to Cincinnati, where the Reds will open a six-game homestand against the Nationals on Tuesday night. Southpaw Brandon Claussen (2-3, 5.63 ERA) will start for the Reds, with Tony Armas Jr. (2-2, 3.98 ERA) going for the Nationals.

Jason Grey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


05-07-2006, 08:17 PM
And he owes it all to Jenny Craig! :lol:

05-08-2006, 12:15 AM
Now might be the time to trade him.

05-08-2006, 12:21 AM
Playing every day helps Kearns, but hurts Freel.

05-08-2006, 12:35 AM
I don't think it would be a good time to trade Kearns right now b/c of Griffey being hurt.Saying that thow I would like to see a Austin Kearns,Jason Larue,and a pitching prospect from the minors to the Dimondbacks for Brandon Webb.

Yeah I know the Dimondsbacks would'nt go for it but I can dream.;)

05-08-2006, 09:22 AM
Kearns + Healthy = great production

Kearns + Great Production = Rediculous trade hopes

Trade Freel.

Az Red
05-08-2006, 09:45 AM
Trade !?!? :bang: NO!!!!!!!!!

Sign him to a LTC NOW !!!!!! :thumbup:

05-08-2006, 09:49 AM
Trade !?!? :bang: NO!!!!!!!!!

Sign him to a LTC NOW !!!!!! :thumbup:

What he said.

05-08-2006, 09:55 AM
Kearns hitting success no surprise to Chambliss
By Hal McCoy

Staff Writer

PHOENIX | Almost without notice, with no fanfare, batting most of the time down in the seventh spot in the Cincinnati Reds batting order, Austin Kearns is becoming a force.

With a home run and two doubles Sunday in a power-packed 9-8 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, Kearns is batting .328.

And it is no surprise to batting instructor Chris Chambliss, who made a minor adjustment during spring training that is bringing major results.

"We worked at getting his hands away from his body a little bit," said Chambliss. "He seems to be getting more and more comfortable with it."

Kearns agrees.

"I always kept my hands pretty close to my body, sometimes too close and tied myself up," he said. "I've worked with Chris on keeping them away and it works."

Chambliss also notices Kearns is more selective.

"He is swinging at strikes and seeing the ball," he said. "It's all a matter of being able to see what you're swinging at. You see good pitches and swing at good pitches and better things happen."

Kearns feels in a hitter's mood these days, but knows it comes and goes.

"When you're going good you're not usually missing mistakes," he said. "You get a good pitch and you don't foul it off or miss it. I feel much better than last year, when sometimes I'd pick up a bat and feel great and the next day I'd feel like I was starting all over."

The inside story

Felipe Lopez hit an inside the park home run Saturday night, his second professional inside the park home run.

"I had one in Class AA for Tennessee (Blue Jays) and it was the same way the ball hit a wall and ricocheted away from the outfielder, but that one was much harder because the park was smaller."

He admitted he got tired circling the bases like Barbaro pounding down the Churchill Downs stretch.

"It was my first at-bat, early in the game, and I was really loose yet," he said. "Tired? Oh, yeah. I was running hard all the way. I saw (third base coach) Mark Berry waving me on. When I hit third I saw where the ball was figured I had a chance and never slowed up."

Told it is a tough way to get a home run, he said, "Yeah, I know. A stupid way to hit one."

It was the first Cincinnati inside the park home run since Ken Griffey Jr. ended a game against St. Louis with one in Cinergy Field on Sept. 20, 2001.

The Griffey Report

Speaking of Griffey, when the Reds play an exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Pirates a week from today in Cooperstown, N.Y., Kobe Stenson will throw out the first pitch, at the request of Griffey.

Stenson, 4, is a son of former Reds outfielder Dernell Stenson, gunned down during a robbery in Phoenix during the 2003 Arizona Fall League. Griffey was scheduled to meet the kid and asked the Hall of Fame if Kobe could throw out a first pitch.

That, of course, is assuming Griffey will be with the Reds at the time. His knee will be tested with drills Tuesday and a decision will be made after that abut his immediate future.

He's Shoeless Chris

Chris Denorfia has a new nickname Shoeless Chris Denorfia.

He was spotted in a hotel elevator Sunday morning with a sport coat, slacks, black socks and no shoes.

"I stupidly packed my shoes then sent my suitcase to the luggage truck," he said, scurrying outside to the truck to retrieve his bag as teammates giggled.

His bag was yanked off the truck and Denorfia was on his knees on a driveway fumbling in the suitcase for his shoes.

"I have a feeling I'm going to be reading about this," he said.

Well, yeah.

Brotherly understanding

Manager Jerry Narron preaches his play the game right and don't make mistakes credo to everybody and anybody every day, including his brother, Johnny Narron.

Johnny Narron is in Phoenix at extended spring training as a coach for the Milwaukee Brewers and later will coach at Helena in the Pioneer Rookie League.

After the Reds gave up seven runs Friday in the second inning to the Diamondbacks, making three errors, Narron's brother, who was at the game, said to him, "Now I know why you always talk about doing the little things and doing things right."

And he saw it again Sunday, even though the Reds scraped a win, 9-8.

The Reds led, 4-0, in the third and had one out with a runner on first. But on a grounder to the mound, pitcher Dave Williams couldn't get the ball to second base quickly enough to start an inning-ending double play, getting only the second out. What followed was a two-out torrent, five D-Back runs.


05-08-2006, 04:09 PM
Now might be the time to trade him.Stop...my ribs.

05-08-2006, 06:21 PM
Surprised the prospect of Griffey returning tomorrow isn't getting more discussion on the board now that I see it's mentioned above in Hal's daily missive. I was all geared up to start a new thread about it, too.

Is this due to a lack of love or lack of optimism? :evil:

From Sportsline (http://www.sportsline.com/mlb/teams/report/CIN/9425041):

OF Ken Griffey Jr. (knee stiffness) went on the disabled list retroactive to April 13. He will be tested again Tuesday (May 9) with the hope he might return that day.

05-08-2006, 06:40 PM
We've been hearing this for two weeks. I'll get excited when I see his name in the lineup.

05-08-2006, 07:07 PM
I wonder how many bats AK has lost this young season? Has holding the bat farther away from his body helped him keep a hold on them? He was losing them like gangbusters late last season.

And, no, DO NOT trade Kearns unless you are going to get a solid pitcher... a #2 or #3 guy for him.

05-08-2006, 08:34 PM
First the debate, for quite some time, was who do we trade?.... Kearns or Pena?

Well.... we were able to trade Pena (right move IMO), because it wasn't gonna create a void in RF with Kearns available. In fact, it now puts Kearns in RF on a regular basis to really actually prove himself, and not being concerned over platooning/sharing time.

The eyes are now on Kearns to prove his worth. I personally think he is showing that.

Trade Kearns? Then who replaces him? The "train wreck" Freel? You'd regret that move. ;)

05-08-2006, 11:17 PM
I never had a doubt in my mind about Kearns. Stats dont always catch what the eye can see, like his gracefullness in the OF, and disciplen at the plate. Even when he struck out, he was usually carefull about what he swung at. I have always favored him over Dunner, not that I dont love the Dunner, but to me, Kearns has always carried the full package. Wheather it be hitting a homer, spraying it into left for a double to knock a run in, or catch a ball that just seemed uncatchable. I am just glad he is doing what I knew he could do, what he did his first year and a half in the majors... and make me proud to be a fan. Go Austin!! Welcome back!!

05-08-2006, 11:40 PM
Kearns + Healthy = great production

Kearns + Great Production = Rediculous trade hopes

Trade Freel.

Ummm.. Trade Freel? Why? He is one of the best lead off hitters in MLB. If you want to trade, trade ToWo, and some of our crap relievers, an unnessisary catcher, and get a half decent MRP? And get that Williams out of here!! I know, that won't happen, but we can dream, cant we?

05-08-2006, 11:44 PM
Ummm.. Trade Freel? Why? He is one of the best lead off hitters in MLB. If you want to trade, trade ToWo, and some of our crap relievers, an unnessisary catcher, and get a half decent MRP? And get that Williams out of here!! I know, that won't happen, but we can dream, cant we?

Clearly you missed him being designated for assignment and then released...

Jr's Boy
05-09-2006, 01:32 AM
Kearns + Healthy = great production

Kearns + Great Production = Rediculous trade hopes

Trade Freel.


05-09-2006, 02:22 AM
Ummm.. Trade Freel? Why? He is one of the best lead off hitters in MLB.
A certain west coast team rich in young pitching might overpay for the scrappy one.

05-09-2006, 12:45 PM
Tuesday, May 9, 2006

The real Kearns is back
Right fielder on pace for 30 HRs and 111 RBI

After 2½ seasons of struggling, and even a banishment to Triple-A, the Austin Kearns of 2003 is back.

That's the gap-finding, short-stroke, line-drive-hitting outfielder who seemed on the brink of stardom three Mays ago.

"I'm sure he doesn't want a day off (Monday) with the way he's swinging," Reds manager Jerry Narron said.

A doubleheader would have been just fine for Kearns on Monday after the way he hit Sunday. He went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a home run in the 9-8 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Kearns is hitting .328 with six home runs and 22 RBI. That's a 30-home run, 111-RBI pace.

He went into Monday ranked ninth in the National League in average, was tied for fourth in doubles (11), and was tied for third in hits (39).

His on-base percentage (.371) and slugging percentage (.571) are also respectable.

Most importantly, Kearns is hitting .323 (10-for-23) with runners in scoring position. That's the best on the team. He also leads the Reds with 13 multi-hit games.

It's been a long road back for the outfielder since his ill-fated meeting with Ray King at home plate on May 21, 2003. The collision led to shoulder surgery.

Kearns' run of bad luck continued in 2004. He missed 85 games with a broken wrist and a nagging thumb injury. Last year, Kearns was healthy, but he struggled. He shared right field with Wily Mo Peña, and knew he was an 0-for-4 day at the plate away from sitting.

A slow start, in fact, took him out of the lineup and straight to Triple-A Louisville. He played in 112 games for the Reds, and hit .240 with 18 home runs and 67 RBI.

Kearns, who turns 26 May 20, says his success this season is due to being healthy and getting regular at-bats.

"I feel better," he said. "Last year, I'd feel good one night. Then the next night, I'd feel like I never played before. It's a matter of feeling good consistently."

Kearns is on a tear right now. He's hit in eight of his last nine games, and has a .500 average (16-for-32) over that span.

It's not as if Kearns remade himself as a player. He's simply tapping into his potential.

"I really don't know if there's a big difference (from this year to last)," Narron said. "I don't know if he's doing anything different. I know he knows he's going to be in the lineup every day. That might help him some."

Hitting coach Chris Chambliss made a minor adjustment with Kearns during spring training.

"The thing we did with him is we've got his hands away from his body," Chambliss said. "That's something we did all the way back in spring training. It gives him much more freedom with his hands. He's letting them go."

It seems to be working. Look at Kearns' power numbers after 32 games - six home runs, 22 RBI. It took him 51 games in 2005 to achieve similar stats (six homers, 25 RBI). That's when he was sent to Louisville.

That won't happen this year. The Reds staked their future to Kearns when they traded Peña to Boston. Kearns might have brought more in a trade. But Kearns is a better fit for Narron and general manager Wayne Krivsky.

He's an excellent right fielder, with a world-class arm. He's also a smart baserunner.

"He's a pretty good player," Narron said.

And a pretty hot hitter, too.

"He's seeing the ball well," Chambliss said. "He's swinging at strikes. He's being selective. It's all a matter of seeing what you're swinging at."

That's come from regular at-bats. Kearns has started all but one game this year.

"When you get a lot of at-bats, you start seeing the ball good and swing at strikes," Chambliss said.

Kearns concurs.

"I'm feeling good," he said. "I'm seeing the ball well. When you're feeling good and seeing the ball well, you don't make mistakes."


Redeye fly
05-09-2006, 07:21 PM
Somewhere in Milwaukee,DanO reads all of this and thinks, "Hmm, maybe that chubby kid with the big ears in Cincinnati really can play."

DanO goes to Doug Melvin's office... "Hey Doug, I've been looking at this young pitcher. At first I wasn't real sure about his body, and the poor kid already is balding, so we may have to check his birth certificate. But I've seen his instincts on the mound, and I think he has what it takes to be an honest to goodness number one or two starter at the major league level. The kid is a fiery competitor and downright scrappy. I think maybe we can sign him for a little less than what I signed Milton for in Cincinnati."

Introducing DanO's pitcher of choice:


05-09-2006, 08:27 PM
Ummm.. Trade Freel? Why? He is one of the best lead off hitters in MLB. If you want to trade, trade ToWo, and some of our crap relievers, an unnessisary catcher, and get a half decent MRP? And get that Williams out of here!! I know, that won't happen, but we can dream, cant we?

You take the trash out.... not try to sell it. ;)

05-11-2006, 11:04 AM
Just felt that Austin deserved his own thread because he's just been raking recently. Through a month-and-a-half, it appears that he's finally recovered from being Ray King-ed and a bit out of shape--this is the Austin I thought the Reds had after the 2003 season.

Feel free to distribute praise below. :)

...also, when this offense is firing on all cylinders, it is scary good.

05-11-2006, 11:05 AM
Paging Falls City.... Falls City, you are wanted on thread# 45995. Thank you.

05-11-2006, 11:20 AM
Most multi-hit games for the REDS so far (after 34G)...
Austin Kearns w/ 14 multi-hit games. (Lopez next w/ 11).

Most multi-RBI games for the REDS so far (after 34G)...
Austin Kearns w/ 7 multi-RBI games. (Phillips also w/ 7).


05-11-2006, 11:24 AM
Bravo Kearns. He's looking most of the way back to being one of the best young rightfielders in the game.

I'd try to sign him to a multiyear deal now. I'm convinced. Let him pal around with Dunn for a few more years.

NC Reds
05-11-2006, 11:30 AM
I'm thrilled to see Kearns back swinging the bat well. I never gave up on him, so I feel a bit vindicated in my belief in him as a player.

Not to pick on Hal McCoy, who I think is an excellent writer, but less than a year ago Hal was pimping a trade of Kearns to the Cubs for AAAA pitcher Rich Hill. What a disaster that would have been. I don't have a ton of good things to say about DanO, but at least he did not listen to the calls to move Kearns for middling talent.

05-11-2006, 11:39 AM
Thursday, May 11, 2006

CLEANING UP: Narron tinkered with the lineup for Wednesday night's game with the Washington Nationals.

Austin Kearns was in the fourth spot.

Kearns has hit fourth four times this year - the Reds went into Wednesday 3-1 with him in the No. 4 hole - but he hasn't hit there since April 26.

The strategy worked. He went 4-for-4, walked once, doubled and drove in two runs.

Kearns has 20 hits in his last 11 games, raising his average to .339.

05-11-2006, 11:49 AM
I picked up Kearns for my roto squad about two weeks in and he's been phenominal.

He's using all field for the first time in his life.

05-11-2006, 12:00 PM
Finally! Time to trade him now! Remember what we got for :pena:

05-11-2006, 12:09 PM
Bravo Kearns. He's looking most of the way back to being one of the best young rightfielders in the game.

I'd try to sign him to a multiyear deal now. I'm convinced. Let him pal around with Dunn for a few more years.

He's tearing it up right now but I would be very leery of giving someone who's never played a full season a long term deal. Not to mention that he has a history of having a bad attitude and not keeping himself in shape. What happens when you throw a long term deal at someone like that? What can happen is they stop trying. See Beltre, Adrian. Kearns has to prove himself over an extended period.

05-11-2006, 12:12 PM
Paging Falls City.... Falls City, you are wanted on thread# 45995. Thank you.

How long until we get a dedicated "Trade Kearns" thread?

On a side note, Freel needing a day off will probably be welcomed with the return of KGJ, but unfortunately I see Freel returning to his super sub role when KGJ does return....

05-11-2006, 12:28 PM
Just felt that Austin deserved his own thread because he's just been raking recently.

We already have one: http://www.redszone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=45845

Let's merge 'em.

05-11-2006, 01:10 PM
At this point in the season, Kearns is not only meeting expectations... IMHO, he's exceeding them.

05-11-2006, 02:38 PM
From SI.com...


I can also tell you two things about him having observed him from up close:

1) He is in much, much better shape than he was last year at this time, though no one will ever accuse him of taking steroids and/or human growth hormone. 2) I have never seen that much tape on a person's ankles that was not playing basketball, which leads me to my point:

As much as I love what Kearns does when he is out on the field, I'm not sure he's out of that Larry Walker/Reggie Sanders/J.D. Drew oft-injured class of player yet. In other words, great when he plays, but the number of at-bats is uncertain.

05-11-2006, 04:46 PM
Tape on his ankles? Has Austin ever had an ankle injury?

I find this information a bit baffling.