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He's hobbled now, but Miami's Kearns has surprised Guillen

The SportsXchange

Austin Kearns of the Miami Marlins left Tuesday's game in the fourth inning with a tight right hamstring. He's day to day.

Kearns, who pulled up while running the bases, is off to a solid start, batting .375 after going 1-for-1 with a walk before leaving Tuesday's game.

But if manager Ozzie Guillen had had his way in spring training, Kearns might have opened the season in the minor leagues.

Talking before Tuesday's game about Kearns' progress, Guillen said Kearns did not make a positive impression on him when he arrived to spring training as a non-roster invitee.

"He got lucky he got hot for three days because he was my first release when we had the meetings," Guillen said Tuesday.

Not everyone in the Marlins' front office agreed with Guillen, and Kearns started to play well. He eventually beat out Aaron Rowand as the team's right-handed bat off the bench, batting .370 with three homers and nine RBI in 17 spring games.

"If I could cut people, he might've been the first one to go out. But I let him play because of the problem we had: We needed a right-handed hitter," Guillen said.

"I made him compete against Rowand, and he beat Rowand easy, no problem. That's the reason he made the ballclub, because he earned it. He won the spot, and so far he has been great."

Guillen still doesn't consider Kearns an everyday player. "If we use him the way we use him right now, he will be very productive," Guillen said.
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