- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 16, 2008

Outfielder Austin Kearns, 27, came over to the Nationals in a major trade in July 2006 with the Cincinnati Reds. Kearns arrived along with Felipe Lopez and Ryan Wagner in exchange for pitchers Gary Majewski, Bill Bray, infielders Royce Clayton and Brendan Harris and minor league pitcher Darryl Thompson.

Last year, in his first full major league season with the Nationals, Kearns batted .266 with 16 home runs and 74 RBI in 161 games, missing just one. He was born in Lexington, Ky.

Thom Loverro caught up with him recently.

Q: Do anything unusual this offseason? Any traveling?

A: We usually try to take a trip out to Vegas for a little bit and go to Florida a little bit, but nothing out of the ordinary. I try to relax during the offseason. I am busy working out and I’ve got two kids, so that keeps me plenty busy.

Q: One of the things that manager Manny Acta and others have said a number of times is how hard you play, in every part of the game. Where did that work ethic come from?

A: I don’t know. I have always played the same way. It is kind of how I have always done it. There is no rhyme or reason why. I’ve always liked to play. You go out there and take care of your own business and see what happens. There are a lot of things you can’t control, but you can always control the effort you put forth. I take it as a compliment.

Q: RFK was a tough hitters park. You must be happy, other than with just all the amenities you guys will have at the new park, to move into the new place, right?

A: I think everybody is looking forward to it. A new park is always exciting. I think you are going to have a packed house every night, hopefully a packed house. That means a lot for the players. I know the fans are probably ready to move into the new ballpark, so everyone is excited. I would think it would be a little more fair for hitters. I think it will be right in between. It’s not a bandbox, but it’s not RFK, either.

Q: Will the moves the team made this offseason have a big impact on the offense?

A: I think we will be better. Some of the guys we added, like Lastings [Milledge] and [Paul] Lo Duca, will definitely help. And I think a guy like Felipe [Lopez], who had an off year last year, will bounce back and be a guy at the top of the order that gets on base a lot and running.

Q: You are from Kentucky. Are you a horse racing fan? Have you ever been to the Kentucky Derby?

A: I like the horses, but no, I’ve never been to the Derby. I can’t because it is during the season. I hope to go when I am done playing. I can’t wait. I’ve got buddies that go pretty much every year, so that is something I would like to do when not playing.

Q: Who do you think the smartest guy on the team is?

A: Wow … smartest guy on the team. I don’t know. … I’m trying to think who these guys are who do the crossword every day and know all that stuff. This is tough. I am going to have to think about it.

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