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Indians Sign Austin Kearns

Indians Sign Austin Kearns
January 5, 2010
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The Cleveland Indians announced today that they have signed outfielder Austin Kearns to a free agent minor league contract. The contract includes a non-roster invitation to major league spring training camp.

Kearns, 29, owns a Major League career batting average of .256 (737-2879) with 155 doubles, 105 home runs, 422 RBI, 385 walks and a career on-base% of .353 in 542 games with the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals since 2002. The Lexington, KY native was the 7th overall pick of the Reds in 1998. His 2009 season with Washington was cut short due to a right thumb injury in August, appearing in 80 games for the Nationals prior to the injury (.195, 34-174, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 32 BB, .336 on-base%). His best season came in 2006 between the Reds and Nationals where he hit a combined .254 (142-537) with 33 2B, 24 HR & 86 RBI in 150 games (.363OB %).

The addition of Kearns along with 1B/OF Shelley Duncan add some competition to one of the final bench spots currently held by infielder Andy Marte or utility man Chris Gimenez. It looks like Gimenez, Marte, Kearns, and Duncan could all compete for the role as a right-handed bat off the bench. If Kearns does not make it onto the big league roster, he would slide right into the Triple-A Columbus Clippers starting outfield, likely in right field (Jordan Brown in LF and Jose Constanza in CF).

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