CINCINNATI -- Austin Kearns took batting practice with the specially designed gloves built to protect the scar tissue and spurring at the base of his right thumb before Tuesday's game with the Mets at Great American Ball Park.
The results weren't what he or the Reds were hoping for.
"The first ball I hit, it was ringing pretty good," Kearns said. "I kept going thinking maybe it would get better, but [the pain] was pretty consitent."
"Austin tried it today and it didn't work," said Reds medical director Dr. Timothy Kremchek. "Typically, when we were letting him hit, it would take a couple of days and the thumb would then react. Today, after the first couple of hits, the thumb was just all red and we decided it wasn't going to work."
Kremcheck and hand specialist Dr. Peter Stern will perform surgery on Kearns' thumb Friday morning in Cincinnati.
"What were going to do is take the spur out of the inside part of his thumb, and take the callous and scar tissue out of the thumb," Kremcheck said. "He'll be placed in a splint afterward, and the timetable at this point, although it's subject to change, will be four to six weeks."
Kearns, who has been sidelined by the injury since June 8, has been limited to just 87 at-bats this season because of injuries. He previously missed 19 games with a fractured left forearm.
His most recent injury was actually caused by a previous one.
"He had an injury to the ligament on the inside part of his thumb in 2001," Kremchek said. "It was treated non-operatively, and the ligament is completely healed. It's not torn. It's fine. The problem is that scar tissue has formed under there and with the way he held the bat, it was rubbing on there and aggravating it."
On a positive note, Kearns shouldn't need too much rehabilitation time once the wound heals.
"He'll be able to do baseball activities as far as hitting and running [while he recovers]," Kremcheck said. "Hopefully, he'll be able to hit the ground running once it's healed."
Since making his big-league debut with the Reds in 2002, Kearns has been no stranger to the disabled list. Along with the pair of injuries this season, he missed the end of 2002 after going on the DL with a strained left hamstring and sat out the second half of last season due to surgery to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff in his right shoulder. "I'm glad it's not going to end my season," Kearns said. Hopefully, I can be back at the end of July. I think, after all the things we've tried, this is obviously the thing that needs to be done."
We can only imagine what a healthy season from him could yield.