Earlier this season we visited 1997 the time doppelganger that dogs the 2005 season like an eager howler monkey on Animal Planet. On Sunday the Kearns demotion once again scratched the surface of the 1997 season, specifically the June, 20th demotion of Bret Boone.
Mired in a horrible slump all April Boone entered May with a pitiful .133/.224/.173/.397 stat line, struggling like only a Boone can he meandered through the next 5 weeks with little power and barely acceptable on base skills.
Boone like Kearns had burst upon the Reds scene with a bang and his first season was batting average driven with a nice display of power for a middle infielder. However like Kearns the next two seasons showed a decrease from the original version that got everybody so excited. Dropping in every category and eventually creating less runs than the average being created by their peers.
AVG OBA SLG OWP RC/G RCAP Bret Boone .320 .368 .491 .583 6.27 13 Bret Boone .267 .326 .429 .474 4.71 2 Bret Boone .233 .275 .354 .295 3.18 -13 Austin Kearns .315 .407 .500 .646 7.54 12 Austin Kearns .264 .364 .455 .564 5.91 2 Austin Kearns .230 .321 .419 .443 4.30 -9
The act itself was eerily similar as well, with the Kearns move we got a end of the weekend attempt to shake up an underperforming player, with Boone the move was made on a Friday morning, rippling through the clubhouse and getting this reply from Bowden:
”This isn’t punishment or demotion,” Bowden said.
”It’s a matter of straightening him out and getting him back here. You need to make adjustments in this game, no matter who you are. I think that message will get through the clubhouse. This is not intended to be shock treatment.”
Today concerning Kearns demotion Dan O’Brien said:
“It just didn’t come together for him,” general manager Dan O’Brien said.
“Right now our only focus is to get [Kearns] back to where he should be and needs to be,” O’Brien said. “That’s our one and only focus.”
On the morning in 1997 Boone took the quite route out and refused to speak to reporters, the next day he reported to Indianapolis, only to be replaced on the Reds roster by his younger brother Aaron.
When in Indy the first day this is what transpired.
Bowden lauded Boone for handling the news professionally, even though the second baseman had called the demotion ”extreme.” Boone said that he hadn’t seen it coming, that he was called in to see Bowden and Knight and was shocked at the news.
He hung around Jacobs Field for an hour or so and gathered his things, then decided to drive back alone to Cincinnati and gathered his thoughts. Boone could have taken 72 hours to report to the minors, but called his younger brother, Indianapolis third baseman Aaron Boone, in the clubhouse after that team’s doubleheader and told him he was reporting Thursday.
”I think he’s handling it tremendously and very professionally,” said Indianapolis manager Dave Miley.
Oh, there were so many chances to speak up and to speak out. He gave a mass pregame interview to the gathered media, but chose perspective over outrage, saying, ‘‘in the big picture, there are worse things in life.”
Before he addressed the media, though, he realized he had forgotten his Indianapolis hat and politely asked a team representative if he wanted to retrieve one for him to help publicize the team for the cameras. Done. Boone also wore a T-shirt to the interview that spoke his attitude, ”Shut Up and Play.”
Kearns on the other hand was quoted as saying:
“We’ve got an outfield problem here,” he said. “We’ve got guys who can play every day who are trying to establish themselves as everyday players. Even if I go down and come back, it’s still going to be the same situation. It just comes to a point in everyone’s career where you want to establish yourself and be in there every day. Call that selfish or anything you want, but that’s just how it is.
.224/.306/.394/.700 in a 170 ab’s is not doing it and on a team with lots of power and limited speed and fielding in the outfield; carrying a LH PH and a guy who needs more ab’s than he’s going get as a backup screams for a change.
Making the move equally strange is the following tidbit from the same morning
The timing of the move was curious. The Reds were already without outfielder Curtis Goodwin, who was given permission to return home to California to attend his grandmother’s funeral.
In today’s notes on Kearns this could be found at the end of the article.
LaRue on leave: Catcher Jason LaRue was placed on the bereavement list to attend the funeral of his grandfather, Carl LaRue, in Crockett, Texas. He is expected to return to the Reds on Tuesday, and he’ll be activated Wednesday.
I’m telling you this 1997 connection is a strange one.
So down goes Kearns, much like Boone did….. will he come back as quick? Boone’s stay in AAA was was short due to an injury on the Reds and 3 games later he was back. His post All Star numbers were decent for a middle infielder .258/.326/.396/.723, but hardly anything to write home about.
What’s next for Kearns? Who really knows? One thing for sure is his stay in AAA won’t be forever if he’ll ”Shut Up and Play.”
Blame Chad for creating this mess.
Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.
You can email Chad at email@example.com.