Kearns keeps a positive outlook

Kearns keeps a positive outlook

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Austin Kearns arrived in Louisville two weeks ago with a smile on his face and just four words on his mind: "Let's play some ball."

There was no harboring ill will toward Reds management, no pouting around the clubhouse and no giving up on the season.

Just four words: "Let's play some ball."

Well, maybe a bit of frustration, too.

"Of course there's frustration," Kearns said. "I didn't like the decision. I didn't think that it was right. But I figured, coming here, playing every day, I'll show people that I can play, and that'll take care of itself.

"I didn't like their decision, but there's nothing I can do about it. I'm easy going, I just like to play. I think I played the game the right way. I'm going to enjoy it while I'm here. And wherever I go from here, I'm just going to take that same attitude."

Kearns decided to make the most of playing Triple-A ball and moved past being ticked off. Now, he's just trying to get back to the Majors.

Kearns was optioned down to Louisville on June 12 because of his poor performance with the Reds this season. He was batting just .224 with six home runs and 25 RBIs at the time.

Once he arrived in Louisville, he was placed on a program of sorts by Reds management that included him playing every day and losing weight. Although Kearns didn't say what he weighed, entering the season he was up around 245. He said Reds management wants him under 240.

But Kearns feels if he had been able to play with the Reds every day, he wouldn't have put up such poor numbers. And the weight, he said, wasn't a factor at all.

"I probably just put too much pressure on myself," Kearns said. "I started off slow, then I started swinging well, then I hit another slump. So it was probably just putting some pressure on myself. And then not being in there every day just made me try that much harder, which probably made things worse."

"But my first game down here I was running and running well. It doesn't hurt to lose weight, but I don't feel that was causing me to struggle. In Spring Training, it wasn't any different, and I was doing fine and nobody said anything about it then."

Regardless of why Kearns was struggling, he's in Louisville and apparently not going anywhere anytime soon. Reds general manager Dan O'Brien said Friday that the organization has no interest in trading Kearns. And after calling up three players over the weekend, including outfielder Jason Romano, it seems the Reds are going to keep Kearns in Triple-A until he meets their standards.

Kearns said he hasn't, and won't, demand a trade, despite not getting the call back up. He said he prefers to play in Cincinnati if at all possible. But he'd rather be an everyday player anywhere than see minimal time in the Reds organization.

"I would like to go back to Cincinnati and play every day," Kearns said. "But if that's not the case, I'd like to go somewhere else and play. I might like a shot somewhere else, because I think I'm an everyday player.

"You want to play with the organization you came up with. But I want to play every day, too. I like playing in Cincinnati. I like the city; it's close to home for me. But there comes a time when you want to be an everyday player."

And Kearns has not kept this a secret from the Reds.

"I've already told them what I felt," he said. "I said if I can't play [in Cincinnati] every day, and there's an opportunity somewhere else, then [a trade] wouldn't bother me a bit."

For now, though, Kearns will have to continue playing in the Minors and working his way back up to the level he was playing his first three seasons with the Reds.

Since being sent down to Louisville, Kearns showed right from the start the type of player he is, batting nearly .400 with a homer. His last two games, however, he's struggled, unable to record a hit in either game. Now Kearns' average sits at .311 with still one home run and nine RBIs in 11 games.

But he isn't worried that he'll be lost in the shuffle. He understands that those players were called up just to see Major League time and not to be a permanent fixture with the team.

"If they were outfielders getting called up to play every day, yeah, I'm sure I'd be upset," he said. "But that's not the case. I understand why they're calling people up."

And in agreement with it or not, Kearns also understands what he has to do to get back to the Majors.

"I work hard," he said. "I think it's just a matter of relaxing and playing. I put the work in. I was putting the work in when I was there. It's just that the results weren't there. So, probably, the best thing for me is just to relax and have fun."

"It'll work out. I'm confident that things will work out."

Kyle Jepson is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.