Jun 12, 2010, 3:31 AM EST
Photo by Rachel Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Austin Kearns belted two homers — and almost a third — against his former team.
CLEVELAND — Austin Kearns knows what the folks in Washington think of him. He knows his 3 1/2 years in a Nationals uniform were a complete bust and he didn't come close to earning the $17.5 million contract Jim Bowden inexplicably gave him in January 2007.
Kearns heard the criticisms and the boos through much of 2008 and 2009, a pair of dreadful seasons that saw the outfielder go from a multimillionaire in Washington to a nonroster invitee in Cleveland.
All the while, Kearns knew what most everyone else did not: He was injured. In 2008, he had a stress fracture in his leg and bone chips in his elbow. In 2009, he had a tear in his thumb. All the ailments eventually required surgery, but before he would go under the knife, he insisted on playing through the pain.
Why? Why not just reveal how banged up he was and take himself out of the lineup?
"It's tough, man," he said. "You've got a lot of pride, no matter what. You want to be out there every day. Your teammates are out there. It's tough to say, 'I just can't go out there,' for anybody. I think for any player, that probably gets the better of you sometimes."
So Kearns will always be remembered as one of the worst players in Nationals history, certainly when his contract is taken into consideration. Which made his two-homer barrage in the Indians' 7-2 thumping of the Nats tonight sting all the more for fans back in D.C. who had to be asking why they never saw anything like that during theRead more »
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