MLB: Austin Kearns returns to Indians
AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) – Even as he packed his bags for New York, Austin Kearns knew there was a good chance he would be back in Cleveland.
Kearns, who spent four months with the Indians last season before he was traded to the Yankees, returned to the club on Monday by agreeing to a $1.3 million, one-year contract. Kearns made Cleveland’s roster out of training camp and was with the Indians until July 30, when he was dealt for pitcher Zach McAllister.
Kearns had discussions with the Indians about returning prior to the trade.
“I knew there was a chance,” Kearns said. “In the end, Cleveland was the right place to come back to and play. I enjoyed playing here. There are a lot of good guys on the team, guys I’ve maintained relationships with. They have a lot of talented young guys on this team. I enjoyed playing with everyone.”
Kearns batted .272 with eight homers and 42 RBIs in 84 games for Cleveland. With the Yankees, he batted .235 with two homers and seven RBIs in 36 games.
The Indians made a priority of signing a right-handed hitting outfielder this offseason, and Kearns was available for the right price.
“He’s a great fit for our team,” general manager Chris Antonetti said. “He can play all three spots. He’s a smart tough player. He plays the game the right way.”
Cleveland will have to make a move on the 40-man roster to make room for Kearns. Antontetti said the Indians likely will designate someone for assignment.
Kearns has a .257 average in a career that began with Cincinnati. He also played in Washington under Indians manager Manny Acta.
Looking for more pitching, the Indians have scouted former ace Bartolo Colon in the Dominican Republic. It’s possible they’ll sign the 37-year-old to a minor league deal.
“We’ve scouted him and we’ll continue to watch him pitch,” Antonetti said. “We’ve had some pretty good reports on him. His last outing wasn’t exceptionally good, but the other prior to that, he’s pitched pretty well.”
Colon hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2009. He went 75-45 while pitching for the Indians from 1997-2002. Colon won the Cy Young Award in 2005 while pitching for the Los Angeles Angels.