In case you missed it, the Cleveland Indians signed former Red Austin Kearns to a Minor League deal, with an invite to Spring Training.
Kearns became a free agent when the Nationals didn’t exercise his $10 million option for 2010. He appeared in 80 games for Washington – batting .195 with three homers and 17 RBIs – before suffering a right thumb injury in August. (OUCH No. 1)
A quote from Tribe general manager Mark Shapiro:
“[Kearns is] a plus defender in the outfield,” Shapiro said. “He’s a guy who has had some recent struggles, but (manager) Manny (Acta) was very familiar with him. Due to his age and athleticism, the upside and the potential still exists for him to be a productive Major League player.” (OUCH No. 2 … I’m not sure that’s what you really want to hear a GM say about you)
Bleacherreport.com’s Adam Bernacchio offers a look at what’s happened to Kearns since 2002 when – you may recall – he finished third in National League Rookie of the Year voting after hitting .315 with 13 homers, 56 RBIs and 66 runs in 372 ABs.
The Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes doesn’t seem that excited about the Tribe adding Kearns and Shelley Duncan in what he calls “their ongoing scavenger hunt among the lower rungs of free agency.”
(OUCH No. 3)
Though Hoynes does point out that it’s not the first time the Tribe has expressed interest in Kearns. Apparently they discussed trading for him at least once when he was a Red.
Once saw Kearns (pre-2002 … it was either in ’00 or ’01) hit a monster home run at the Phillies’ old Spring Training park in Clearwater (Jack Russell) and got my ticket stub signed by him afterward. Always seemed like a good guy too, so I think it’d be great if he makes a nice comeback now that hopefully he’s healthy. I will, however, root against him May 21-23 and June 25-27. :D