Kearns will be examined Tuesday

Updated: April 27, 2004, 12:37 AM ET
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- Austin Kearns' left forearm was broken when he was hit by a pitch Monday night, his second bad injury in two seasons.

The Cincinnati Reds' right fielder was hit while batting in the first inning against Pittsburgh's Ryan Vogelsong, but did not leave the game until the bottom of the second.

Trainers said Kearns has a small fracture to the ulna, the longer of the two bones in the forearm.

"It was an 0-2 count, and he was trying to bust me in, but it ended up being up and in and it caught me pretty square," Kearns said. "I was hoping after a little bit it would go down, settle down, but it just got worse when I went into the field. I could hardly open my hand up and squeeze my glove."

The Reds did not immediately make a roster move to replace Kearns, who is all but certain to go on the 15-day disabled list.

He will be examined Tuesday in Cincinnati by Reds physician Timothy Kremchek and will not accompany the team to Milwaukee.

Ryan Freel, who was starting at third base until Brandon Larson came off the disabled list Monday, replaced Kearns in the second inning and had an RBI triple during the Reds' 5-2 victory, their seventh in 10 games.

"We've got some options out there with Freel, Wily Mo (Pena) and (Jason) Romano," manager Dave Miley said.

Kearns, who finished third in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2002, returned to the lineup Monday after sitting out Sunday's 6-0 loss to Pittsburgh. He is in a 2-for-23 slump that dropped his average to .137. He has two homers and five RBI.

The injury is yet another setback to the Reds' oft-injured outfield, which had starters Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey Jr. and Kearns together for only 21 games last season.

"There's not a lot you can do about that," Miley said. "I don't know the recovery time on stuff like that, but hopefully it's quick."

Kearns said the best-case scenario for his return is three to four weeks.

Kearns was limited to 82 games last season after injuring his right shoulder on May 21 in a home plate collision with Atlanta's Ray King. Kearns missed the final six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair the posterior and superior labrum, rotator cuff and AC joint in his right shoulder.

In 45 games before that injury, he hit .309 with 13 homers and 44 RBI. In 37 games afterward, he batted .208 with two homers and 14 RBI -- and he has yet to regain his swing this season.

Kearns was 0-for-18 until he doubled Saturday against the Pirates' Jason Boyd, but his only other hit in his last 23 at-bats was an April 18 homer off the Cubs' Greg Maddux.

"It seems like I've been swinging a little better lately, hitting some balls hard, so for this to happen puts a damper on things," Kearns said.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press