Results tagged ‘ Austin Kearns ’

Q&A with Austin Kearns

Outfielder Austin Kearns never played on a winning big-league team until the Indians traded him to the Yankees last July. Kearns, a reserve for New York, is a series away from going to the World Series. 

MLB.com caught up with Kearns before the start of the American League Championship Series to talk about his time with the Yankees, Indians and Nationals.         
     
MLB.com: What was your reaction when the Indians traded you to the Yankees?

Austin Kearns: I was excited, obviously. I wasn’t expecting anything. You get a chance to play in the postseason for a World Series [ring]. That’s what it is all about.     

MLB.com: Is playing for the Yankees what you expected?

Kearns: It has been pretty much what I expected. There are a lot of good people and workers. They take care of their business. They have fun, but they come and get their work done. It has been fun to be here.        

MLB.com: Before the trade, you were never on a winning team in the big leagues. What adjustments did you have to make when you became a member of the Yankees?  

Kearns: … You come here and you are expected to win, so that is the mindset that you have. You go out there and you expect for good things to happen.     

MLB.com: You got off to a great start for the Yankees and you tailed off a little bit toward the end. What happened?    

Kearns: It’s part of the game. I scuffled a little bit. I’m banged up a little bit. It’s part of it.

MLB.com:  What are you expecting the rest of the way against Texas?

Kearns: It’s going to be a dog fight, no matter who you play from here on out. Texas is a good ballclub. They played well [this season]. So I’m expecting some good baseball. 

MLB.com: With you on a winning team, do you think about what Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn are going through with the Nationals?

Kearns: I know how much those guys want to win and how much they deserve to get that chance. I’m sure they will be part of a winner sooner rather than later. Those guys have put in the work. They definitely deserve to a shot to be in the postseason.      

MLB.com: Overall, you had a your best season since 2006. What was the difference between this year and the previous three years with the Nationals. 

Kearns: Health was a big part of it. The guys in Cleveland did a good job keeping out there on the field. I had a lot of problems with my hand — my thumb. So they helped me out with a pad to wear. I’ve went through a million things to try to help the thump. So they finally found something that works. That definitely helped. I think that is the biggest thing.        

MLB.com: What does the future holds for Austin Kearns?

Kearns: I want to play and hopefully get a chance to be on a team where you get another chance to be in the postseason. We’ll see where it goes.  

MLB.com: Do you want to stay with the Yankees?

Kearns: I would love to stay. It doesn’t get any better than playing with these guys.    

Nats do not offer arbitration to free agents

The Nationals did not offer arbitration to any of their free agents, which include catcher Josh Bard, right-hander Livan Hernandez, outfielder Austin Kearns, left-hander Ron Villone and first baseman Dmitri Young.

None of the players were Type A or B free agents — rankings are based on a player’s performance during the previous two seasons.

In the last two seasons, Young played in only 50 games because of illness and injury. His best season with the Nationals was in 2007 when hit .320 with 13 home runs and 74 RBIs, earning National League Comeback Player of the Year honors.

Villone is arguably the only Nationals free agent, who has a chance of coming back to the organization. Manager Jim Riggleman called the reliever a leader by example, because he wants to pitch on a regular basis and watches the game from the dugout after completing his work on the mound. Villone pitched in 63 games and had a 4.25 ERA.

“Ronnie sets a great example,” Riggleman said in August. “He takes the ball more than anybody. He is 39 years old, but he is willing to pitch every day, which I think says a lot. It indicates to some other pitchers that this guy has been around a long time.”  

Kearns was a great teammate and worked hard, but one could argue that he was the biggest disappointment in Nationals history when it came to his offense. He came to Washington with a lot of hype after then -general manager Jim Bowden acquired him from the Reds in July of 2006. 

The former GM predicted that Kearns would hit 40 home runs and drive in over 100 runs in a season, but that never happened. Kearns best season with the Nationals was in 2007, when he hit .266 with 16 home runs and 74 RBIs. A lot of baseball experts felt he was too vulnerable to inside pitches.

Injuries took a toll on Kearns during the next two seasons. He played only 86 games in 2008 because of elbow and foot problems.

This season was the worst season of his career, hitting .195 with three home runs and 17 RBIs.

Hernandez joined the Nationals as a free agent on Aug. 26 after the Mets released him six days earlier. His job was to give the Nationals innings and be a role model to the young pitching staff.  Hernandez pitched 48 2/3 innings and went 2-4 with a 5.36 ERA.

When catcher Jesus Flores missed most of the season with a right shoulder injury, Bard found himself in a platoon situation with Wil Nieves. Bard played in 90 games and hit .230 with two home runs and 31 RBIs.                      

Zimmermann has elbow surgery

Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann had elbow reconstruction on Wednesday and is expected to miss 12 to 18 months.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Wiemi Douoguih, the team’s medical director, and Dr. Lewis Yocum in Southern Calif.

Zimmermann, who is traveling to Washington on Thursday, will be in a splint for seven days and then start range-of-motion exercises. He is expected to stay with the club and rehab the elbow for the rest of the season.

Zimmermann pitched in 16 games and was 3-5 with a 4.63 ERA for Washington this season.    

In other news, outfielder Austin Kearns, on the disabled list because of a thumb contusion, hopes to start baseball activities in a couple of weeks.   

Zim has setback; Kearns has tissue removed from thumb

Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann did not have his scheduled bullpen session on Friday because he continues to have tightness in his right elbow. He will have an MRI soon to determine the seriousness of the injury.

The Nationals were hoping that Zimmermann could pitch on Tuesday against the Braves, but that plan has been put on hold.  

“He just came in and he feels a little something there. We are concerned [enough] to not let him throw in the bullpen,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “He wants to pitch. But with where we are at, we are going to get him looked at again, get some pictures taken. Hopefully, he will be pitching.”       

In other news, outfielder Austin Kearns had tissue removed from his injured right thumb in Baltimore. He will be re-evaluated on Monday to determined how long he will be out for.   

Outfielder Roger Bernadina, who is on the DL because of a fractured right ankle, will not play in a big league game anytime soon. Although the bone in the ankle has healed, Bernadina feels a lot of soreness. There’s no timetable on when he will play in a Major League game again. 

Kearns seeing specialist; Zim may get big-league start

Nationals outfielder Austin Kearns is expected to see Dr. Thomas Graham in Baltimore on Thursday to check on his right thumb. On that day, it will be determined if Kearns needs surgery.

“It started out as a bruise or contusion. It wasn’t getting better,” said Dr. Wiemi Douoguih, the Nationals’ medical director. “It’s a possibility that he needs surgery, but I don’t want to speculate.”    

In retrospect, interim manager Jim Riggleman believes Kearns’ thumb has been bothering him off and on this season. Kearns was not available for comment.  

Kearns has had thumb problems dating back to his Minor League days with the Reds. In 2001, Kearns suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in the thumb and missed most of the season.

Three years later, scar tissue, a lesion and bone spur had to be removed from his thumb.

As for right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, the team has not decided where he will make his next start — the big leagues or the minors.

Zimmermann was scheduled  to pitch four innings on Tuesday for Class-A Potomac, but he pitched  3 1/3 innings. He left the game because a line drive hit Zimmermann on the back of the left leg in the fourth inning. He is expected to be OK and have a bullpen session on Friday.

If he pitches in the big leagues, Zimmerman will likely start against the Braves on Tuesday.

“We won’t know until after he has his bullpen session the day after tomorrow,” Riggleman said.

Zimmerman is on the disabled list because of a sore right elbow. Every time he pitches, he feels tightness in the elbow.       

“It’s tight. I don’t know how to describe it,” Zimmermann said.

Kearns going on disabled list; Padilla called up

Nationals outfielder Austin Kearns is going on the 15-day disabled list because of a right thumb injury. The Nationals are set to call up outfielder Jorge Padilla, who is arguably the best hitter in the Nationals Minor League System.

Padilla, 29, is hitting .362 with four home runs and 21 RBIs for Triple-A Syracuse. An announcement is expected to be made on Wednesday. 

Kearns, who is having the worst season of his career, is expected to see a thumb specialist in Baltimore on Wednesday.

Kearns has had thumb problems dating back to his Minor League days with the Reds. In 2001, Kearns suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in the thumb and missed most of the season.

Three years later, scar tissue, a lesion and bone spur had to be removed from his thumb.

More on Austin Kearns

Nationals interim manager Jim Riggleman doesn’t know how serious Austin Kearns’ right thumb injury is. Kearns will get the thumb checked out when the team returns to Washington.  

Kearns has had thumb problems dating back to his Minor League days with the Reds. In 2001, Kearns suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in the thumb and missed most of the season.

Three years later, scar tissue, a lesion and bone spur had to be removed.

“It kind of crept back on him. It’s real sore today,” Riggleman said. “He came in today and the thumb was really swollen and kind of blistered up. Because he is such a gamer and tough guy, he was available to pinch hit. We were going to stay away from that.”

Riggleman, Nationals support Austin Kearns

Nationals outfielder Austin Kearns hasn’t received much playing time lately. In fact, he has only 17 plate appearances in his last 22 games. It doesn’t help that he is 12-for-79 [.152]  in his last 37 games. 

Part of the problem is that Kearns hasn’t been able to make the proper adjustments with his hands. He is usually vulnerable to inside pitches. 

Although he hasn’t played much, Kearns has earned the respect of the organization. He has never complained about lack of playing time, according to interim manager Jim Riggleman.

“This is one of the finest people you ever want to meet. What a class individual,” Riggleman said. “A lot of people with his stature in the game would display an attitude and a body language that would be very hard to be around. I appreciate the way he is handling the situation.”

Kearns has been on the trade block for the most of the season, but there doesn’t appear to be any takers. Kearns has an option for $10 million for 2009, but that is not expected to be picked up by the Nationals.     

Nats need to make another move

By acquiring outfielder Nyjer Morgan and reliever Sean Burnett, the Nationals have to take a player off the 25-man roster by Wednesday morning.

Second baseman Ronnie Belliard and outfielder Austin Kearns are the leading candidates to be let go. Both players are having their worst seasons of their careers and haven’t seen much action in the last two weeks.

I’ll keep you posted on what’s going on.   
 

Kearns trying to get out of slump

Nationals outfielder Austin Kearns finds himself in an 8-for-50 slump. Manager Manny Acta believes Kearns has some mechanical issues with his swing.

When things are going badly, Kearns is vulnerable to inside pitches and breaking balls on the outside part of the plate. Kearns has been working hard with hitting coach Rick Eckstein to get his swing back.

“I have been out of rhythm,” Kearns said. “I’m trying to get back in rhythm. I’m trying to see the ball and have good at-bats. I’m trying to get the good feel back.”

Earlier in the season, Kearns had a good feel for hitting. He had more of an opened stance, shortened his swing and was hitting the ball all over the place.

“Since I’ve been working with Rick, I’m trying to keep that consistency — repeating that swing I haven’t had in a while,” Kearns said. “During the first month, I was getting to where I was pleased. In the last two or three weeks, I have been trying to get into that rhythm, trying to get that feel.”   

Kearns is in the last year of three year, $16.5 million contract, and it has been reported that he is on the trade block. However, teams have not called the Nationals about him, according to a baseball source. It’s also highly unlikely that the Nationals will pick up his $10 million option in for 2010.       

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