SARASOTA, Fla. -- Outfielder Carson Kainer hasn't played one inning yet for the Reds organization. But when he's ready, it could be a significant moment for both sports and medicine. Kainer, Cincinnati's 14th-round pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 12. The 22-year-old is already taking part in Spring Training at the Reds Minor League camp.
"I do what everybody else does," Kainer said. "If I get tired, I can pull myself out of a drill. They've given me control of my own body. They say if you're too tired or something is wrong, pull yourself out of a drill and take a breather." Other than two NBA players, Sean Elliott and Alonzo Mourning, no major professional athletes have been known to resume their careers after having kidney transplants. "One thing that keeps me going and working harder is knowing I have a chance to be a pioneer for the sport," Kainer said. "For a lot of children that start out with renal disease or kidney failure and have transplants at a young age, this would show them they can reach their goals and achieve dreams. "You don't have to live a normal life just because someone tells you to. You can be extraordinary." Kainer, a teammate of Reds' 2006 first-round pick Drew Stubbs at the Univ. of Texas, batted .364 with 66 RBIs last season for the Longhorns. He and Stubbs were named the squad's co-MVPs. But while Kainer was having a terrific season on the field, a lifelong ailment finally caught up to him. He was born with a staph infection in one of his kidneys, a condition that wasn't realized until he came down with chicken pox at the age of 2. It led to chronic kidney failure, but he was able to lead a normal life while taking medication under the supervision of his physician, Dr. Eileen Brewer. Stubbs was Kainer's roommate for three years at Texas and witnessed firsthand what his friend had to go through just to play baseball, let alone live his life. "It was pretty remarkable, everything that he's been through and still be able to play at the level he has," Stubbs said. "Even before his transplant, it was a daily thing for him taking medication, and the highs and lows of energy levels from long days at the field because of it. It's an amazing thing that he was able to do everything that he did with that condition."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.