Kearns continues to battle 2-for-16 slump

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 24, 2003

ST. LOUIS - Austin Kearns, one of the Cincinnati Reds' best players this season, has been mired in a slump.

A 2-for-16 skid dropped his batting average to .287, prompting manager Bob Boone to give him a day off Sunday against Arizona. The Reds were off Monday before the start of a three-game series Tuesday night in St. Louis.

''I've been trying to get him a day for two weeks,'' Boone said. ''He's really dragging.''

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An injury to center fielder Ken Griffey Jr., plus left fielder Adam Dunn's two-game suspension for a fight with the Philadelphia Phillies, kept Boone from resting Kearns earlier. Kearns has alternated between right field and center this season.

He has been playing for a month with a sore right arm. He suffered the bruised rotator cuff when Atlanta pitcher Ray King fell on him after tagging out Kearns at home plate.

''It's been bugging me ever since,'' Kearns said. ''Some days are better than others.''

The Reds were still waiting Monday to hear from major league baseball on their appeal of the three-game suspension of first baseman Sean Casey for being involved in a June 13 fight with the Philadelphia Phillies in Cincinnati.

Reds teammate Adam Dunn has already served a two-game suspension for his part in that fight, which began when Dunn charged the mound after Phillies pitcher Carlos Silva threw a pitch behind Dunn. Casey said he ran to Dunn's aid after Silva threw a punch when his Phillies teammates had pinned Dunn to the ground.

Meanwhile, Rainer Olmedo is making his presence felt since the Reds recalled him on May 30 from their Double-A Chattanooga affiliate. The rookie infielder batted in the No. 2 spot in the lineup Sunday at Arizona, going 1-for-3 with a run scored in the 6-5 loss to the Diamondbacks. It was his ninth start of the season.

Olmedo's hit came in the first inning when he beat out a would-be sacrifice bunt for an infield single. He said that batting just ahead of Griffey in the order has prompted pitchers to give him better pitches to hit.

The Reds, who have experimented with various leadoff hitters this season, said Olmedo might eventually bat leadoff.

''He could develop into a lot of things,'' Boone said. ''He could hit leadoff. He's played well.''