From the DDN
If Austin Kearns is in the Louisville penal colony for a long sentence, one would never know it by talking to Cincinnati Reds manager Jerry Narron.
While Kearns continues to pound the baseball at the class AAA level — .357, four homers, 12 doubles, 17 RBIs in 84 at-bats — General Manager Dan O’Brien gives no indication of when, if ever, Kearns will be issued a governor’s pardon.
Narron, though, talks about Kearns with reverence.
“Kearns definitely is in our plans,” Narron said. “He has a chance to be an outstanding major-league player. He is going to hit great major-league pitching, not just average major-league pitchers.
“He is a good outfielder, he has a good arm, he plays good defense and he runs the bases,” Narron added. “He just got off to a poor start and got left out. He needs to play and get in shape.”
When O’Brien constantly refers to a program on which Kearns was put, it is in reference to the team wanting him to get in shape, lose some weight. “He needs to play and get in shape,” Narron said. “He is doing a lot of conditioning and got himself in better shape. We’re not concerned with his numbers at Louisville, we just want him to get in shape. I don’t mind talking about Austin Kearns because he is going to be an outstanding major-league player.”
There is no sense to Kearns being at Louisville and some of the stiffs being on the Reds.
Yes, Sean Casey has hit into 20 double plays and is fast approaching Jim Rice’s all-time record 36. And he is even closer to the National League record of 30, shared by Brad Ausmus and former Cincinnati Reds catcher Ernie Lombardi.
Yes, Sean Casey has hit only three home runs this season, none in Great American Ball Park. And his double Saturday night was his first extra base hit in 52 at-bats.
Yes, Casey hasn’t driven in a run since June 24, despite hitting .313.
Sometimes, though, there are other things not discernible in the box score. An example came Saturday night in the eighth inning when he faced Arizona pitcher Brad Halsey.
The Reds trailed, 3-0, with two runners on base. Casey forced Halsey to use 11 pitches before popping out.
But it also forced manager Bob Melvin to change pitchers, and Ken Griffey Jr. promptly tied the game with a three-run homer off relief pitcher Armando Almanza.
“That was a big at-bat,” Narron said. “An at-bat like that takes a lot out of a pitcher, and I’m sure that had something to do with the pitching change.”
Narron is not concerned about Casey’s recent production dip.
“Players seek their levels in this game,” he said. “He’ll hit five or six home runs in a week and he is going to drive in runs because he puts the ball in play. All we have to do is put runners on base for him.”
And never is heard a discouraging word.
I’ve been a Reds fan since the late ’60’s, with my luck of being able to attend plenty of games at Riverfront during the BRM era. I was sitting in the Green Seats in the OF when Pete came home in ’84 and was in the Red seats when Glenn Braggs reached over the fence in ’90 to beat the Pirates. I have had many favorites from Jim Maloney to Johnny Bench, Barry Larkin, Adam Dunn, and Jay Bruce.