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03/27/06 4:13 PM ET

Kearns chats with fans online

Outfielder answers questions from Spring Training camp

Outfielder Austin Kearns is set to begin this season as a regular player for the first time since breaking into the big leagues in 2002. Kearns chatted online with fans Monday from Spring Training camp about the upcoming season, how he prepares for games and the Reds pitching staff, among many other topics.

Kearns: Hello from lovely Ed Smith Stadium.

Gloria_Astorga: Do you feel this will be a better season for you?

Kearns: Yeah, I guess playing every day should make a difference.

ballparkbasher: What is your favorite ballpark to play in?

Kearns: Wrigley Field. It's the fans that make a lot of fun. Chicago is a fun place, too.

linxx: Who is your favorite Major League player to watch?

Kearns: I'm going to have to say Brian Shackelford. He's just a funny dude, man, on and off the field.

duki: What makes you most excited about the Reds season this year?

Kearns: Just the new ownership that's come in. I think they have pretty much made their statement that things are going to be turned around and done the right way. If you don't want to take part in that you're not going to be here.

Michael_Konkel: What do you think of the Reds trading Wily Mo Pena? Will you miss him?

Kearns: I'll miss Wily. He's a good dude. Everyone knows pitching is something we need to improve on. It's hard to see a guy like Wily go, but the trade was something that helped our team.

mestep: Mr. Kearns, any baseball tips? I play middle school baseball. Is there anything you found that helped you? I know your parents taught you a lot.

Kearns: Just have fun. That's the biggest thing. You have to have fun on the field. Even to this day, if you can't smile and laugh when you're out there ... it's hard enough as it us. I try to have as much fun as possible.

Gloria_Astorga: How do you feel with the addition of Bronson Arroyo?

Kearns: I think it's definitely a boost to our rotation. He's a guy that's proven he can win and he did it in maybe one of the toughest places in all of baseball -- Boston. He's definitely welcomed.

nati44girl: How is life being a new father?

Kearns: My sleeping pattern has changed a little bit. It's definitely been a lot of fun.

Gloria_Astorga: Who are your best friends on the team?

Kearns: (Adam Dunn) Dunner, (Ken Griffey Jr.) Junior, (Jason) LaRue, (Kent) Mercker. I could go on but those are a few of the guys.

Base_Ball: What spot are you going to bat in the lineup?

Kearns: I don't fill out the lineup card. As long as it isn't 10th, I'll be happy.

ballparkbasher: What have you been up to in the offseason?

Kearns: Had a baby. That's pretty much made my offseason pretty busy. I caught a few Kentucky games. Other than that, just the normal stuff.

ballparkbasher: What do you do to prepare right before game time?

Kearns: We like to call it "Country Hour." Myself, LaRue, Dunn and Matt Belisle will go to the weight room and get stretched out by Matt Krause. We've got the iPod hooked up to the stereo system and do our country DJing. We pick a song and pass it to the next guy. We keep rotating until everyone is stretched and ready to go out.

Base_Ball_3: I saw you play as a Dayton Dragon and you were awesome even then. Did you have an instructor who you believe made a difference?

Kearns: There's a lot. Start with Russ Nixon, Freddie Benevides, Jim Hickman, Phil Wellman, Mike Easler. Throw Smokey Garrett in there and Rick Sweet.

Pat_Quatman: Hello from your sixth grade teacher. Do you forsee any possible platoon situation this year?

Kearns: I hope not. Hopefully, I'll be out there every day. That's the plan.

jhberry5: If you could go back in time and face any pitcher, whom would you want to face?

Kearns: Call me crazy, I'd say Nolan Ryan.

katie_smith_2: Do you play all year around?

Kearns: No.

katie_smith_2: How do you think you think the Reds pitching staff will do this year?

Kearns: I think we'll be better. Aaron Harang has some more experience after a good season, the same with Brandon Claussen. I think we're all looking forward to seeing Eric Milton come back from last year. Obviously, Arroyo is going to help and hopefully we can get Paul Wilson back to where he was.

geod: Which of the Reds vets that are guest instructors have you clicked with?

Kearns: I got along with all of them. There hasn't been one guy here the whole time you work with for an extended period. It's good to have had those guys here. They bring some tradition and it's been good just to talk to them.

Michael_Konkel: Are you worried about Jason LaRue's knee surgery? I am a very concerned fan.

Kearns: No -- LaRue is a tough guy. This is something that guys have come back quickly from. I expect him to do the same.

guinness: I just wanted to say good luck this year. I am really stoked about this season! Be sure you and Dunn stop into McFadden's again this year. I DJ there on Friday nights. If you come in, any requests?

Kearns: Bring your country playlist.

Michael_Konkel: I am from the Dayton area and would love to know what you think of Dayton and the fans?

Kearns: Dayton is probably the best place I've played in the Minors. It's unbelievable -- a packed house every night in A ball.

lacherj: I heard you and Dunn are pretty close. Do you guys spend much time in the offseason together?

Kearns: We met up a couple of times this offseason. Once out in Vegas. We went to ultimate fighting. He came to Lexington one weekend.

matt_tbone: How did the time you spent in the Minors help you last year?

Kearns: I think just getting away from some of the stuff going on here was good for me, my head was about to explode here.

Michael_Konkel: Where is your favorite place in Cincinnati? Are you a Skyline fan?

Kearns: The Precinct is hard to beat. I've eaten Skyline, but I'm not a fanatic.

halmorris4ever: Austin, what inspired you to grow your hair out? As a fellow long-hair wearer, I think it looks great.

Kearns: I just decided to let it go and see what happened one day. I noticed my hair was kind of curly. My mom liked it so I kept it. What mom says goes.

duki: Who do you think is the best overall athlete in Major League Baseball?

Kearns: I'd say, this is just random thinking -- Carl Crawford has got to be one guy. Carlos Beltran and of course, Sean Casey.

ballparkbasher: Is it going to be weird seeing Sean Casey playing for the opposing team when you play Pittsburgh?

Kearns: Yeah, it will be weird, just seeing him in a different uniform. We still see and talk to him. Just seeing him in a different uniform is the weirdest thing.

larkinfaithful: Do you have any superstitions or special rituals you go through before or during games?

Kearns: There are certain things, but nothing out of the ordinary. You just prepare yourself and get ready the same way every day. I guess listening to the country music.

Base_Ball: Have you given Dunn any grief about Texas getting KO'd in the NCAA tourney?

Kearns: A little bit, but I can't really say much when they already won the football and the baseball championships. I'm just glad they didn't sweep all three.

jhberry5: What are your hobbies outside of baseball?

Kearns: Golfing, fishing, video games and family.

Kearns: Thanks for stopping by. You stay classy, Reds fans!

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.