Kearns Joins Three Others Who Are Done

By Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 18, 2008

Austin Kearns's injury-riddled season ended yesterday, when the Washington Nationals announced that Kearns, along with Jesús Flores, Dmitri Young and Ronnie Belliard, have been shut down for the rest of the season.

"You're not going to risk an injury forcing a guy back to play two or three games at the very end," General Manager Jim Bowden said.

Kearns's latest ailment, a stress fracture in his left foot, landed him on the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 25. He also missed time after undergoing elbow surgery earlier this season.

"I totally understand," Kearns said. "When I first found out what it was, I knew that was a possibility. I agree with it. There's no point in taking a chance right now. It's tough but you've got to roll with it. Things happen that are out of your control and that's part of it."

Even when he was in the lineup, Kearns never found his rhythm, playing in 86 games with a career-low seven homers and .217 batting average. He also tied a career worst with 32 RBI.

Said Bowden: "It's over. You look to next year. How do I evaluate it? In terms of being injured and not putting up his numbers? It's behind us. That's how we look at it. It's in the rearview mirror now."

Goodbye, Columbus

Beginning today, Washington will try to find a new Class AAA affiliate for 2009. The Columbus Clippers, the Nationals' partner for the last two seasons, has an agreement with the Cleveland Indians.

Today, major league and minor league teams are allowed to enter into "player development contracts," and one Washington source said that search would begin at 12:01 a.m. The Syracuse Chiefs, long affiliated with the Toronto Blue Jays, are among the likely choices for the Nationals' Class AAA team.

"We'd like to stay in the International League," the source said.

Las Vegas, one possible landing spot, competes in the Pacific Coast League.

Staff writer Chico Harlan contributed to this report.

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