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05/21/08 7:28 PM ET

Kearns may be headed to disabled list

Nats outfielder has swelling in his right elbow

WASHINGTON -- Nationals general manager Jim Bowden acknowledged that he is concerned about outfielder Austin Kearns' sore right elbow.

The GM said the swelling had not gone down and the team had not ruled out putting Kearns on the disabled list. Kearns has loose bodies in his right elbow.

For now, the team will send Kearns' MRI to Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., and Dr. Timothy Kremchek in Cincinnati to get second and third opinions, respectively.

"We are hoping the swelling goes down and he can play this weekend," Bowden said. "If he can't play by Monday, we have to disable him."

Kearns said he hurt the elbow during batting practice on Saturday at Baltimore and has missed the last four games.

"Austin is extremely tough," Bowden said. "If he was hurt, he would never tell anyone. It's just the way he is. He is a flat-out gamer and a winner. If he is not playing because he is hurt, believe me, the injury is legitimate."

Kearns is having the toughest season of his career, hitting .187 with three home runs and 16 RBIs.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.