Notes: Kearns excited for trip
Slugger will return to hometown during upcoming Reds series
WASHINGTON -- Last July 13, Nationals general manager Jim Bowden acquired outfielder Austin Kearns, infielder Felipe Lopez and reliever Ryan Wagner from the Reds for five players, including right-hander Gary Majewski and shortstop Royce Clayton.
On Sunday night, Kearns and Lopez return to Cincinnati as the Nationals begin a four-game series against the Reds starting Monday night. Wagner will not travel to Cincinnati, for he will be rehabbing his right-shoulder in nation's capital.
Kearns lives in Lexington, Ky., just one hour away from Great American Ball Park, and he can't wait to see his family, old friends and sleep in his own bed. Kearns said he still keeps in touch with former teammates such as Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr.
Kearns was the Reds' first-round pick in the 1998 First-Year Player Draft and he made his Major League debut in 2002. However, injuries stood in the way of him reaching his potential. His best season was in 2002, when he hit .315 with 13 home runs and 56 RBIs.
"I'm sure it will be a little different going back there, being on the visiting side," Kearns said. "I'm going to have some fun, see some friends and play some baseball. It will be good to see the guys who work on the field, the security guys over there."
Kearns indicated that he feels comfortable being in Washington and believes in the Nationals' rebuilding plan. Washington has already made him part of the future by signing him to a three-year, $16.5 million extension last February.
"At first, I was feeling my way around, but I'm very comfortable here," Kearns said. "I like all the guys and where this organization is going. There are a lot of positives. Getting into the new stadium, I think we are going to win a lot sooner than people anticipate.
Lopez, on the other hand, doesn't have any feelings about returning to Cincinnati, even though it was the city where he became an All-Star in 2005. That year, he replaced the legendary Barry Larkin at shortstop.
"I don't know. I have good memories there. But I don't think about these things," Lopez said.
Asked what it was like to replace a player of Larkin's caliber, Lopez said, "I don't know. I'm weird, I don't think about these things. I don't care. I just play. He was gone. He was a good player."
"It has been a long time," Wagner said. "You think if something was going to be done, it would have been settled already. The grievance is way over our heads. Will it's be resolved? Who knows. It may die with time or it may not. But I guess it has to run its course."
Sunday's outing: Micah Bowie made his first start since 1999, lasting 3 1/3 innings. He gave up two runs on four hits. He threw 69 pitches, but he ran out of gas by the time he reached 50.
"It was first time since '99 that I've thrown that many pitches in a game," Bowie said. "Hopefully, I'll be better next time."
Left-hander Billy Traber entered the game and chewed up innings. He pitched 2 2/3 innings and gave up one run.
While manager Manny Acta praised Traber for getting the job done, the left-hander was hard on himself for giving up an RBI single to Orioles pitcher Erik Bedard and allowing an inherited runner to score.
"It's nice to chew up innings, but the mistakes stick out because it cost us runs. That can't happen," Traber said.
Stat of the day: Entering Sunday's action, the Nationals are 1-14 against teams outside of the American League East.
Did you know? The Nationals/Expos are 88-89 in Interleague Play entering Sunday's action.
Coming up: In the opener of a four-game series on Monday, Washington right-hander Levale Speigner will face Cincinnati right-hander Bronson Arroyo. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. ET.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.