Austin Kearns Returns to Cleveland Indians in 2011

Mitchell Below@tribescribeContributor IDecember 20, 2010

ST. PETERSBURG - MAY 17:  Outfielder Austin Kearns #26 of the Cleveland Indians is congratulated by his teammates after scoring a run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on May 17, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

In this winter of our discontent, a season so cold that Cleveland landmarks have become hellish icescapes, Chris Antonetti has finally thawed enough to make his first major-league free-agent signing of the offseason.

Austin Kearns, the Indians' primary LF for much of the spring and summer last season, has returned to the fold for 2011.

According to their official Twitter feed, the Indians will begin the season with Kearns in the familiar role of fourth OF and starter against LHP. Kearns' role could increase if his lefty platoonmate—likely Michael Brantley, but there are other options—fails to stake a claim to the job.

 

Buck Stops in Columbus

The Indians also came to an agreement with OF Travis Buck on a minor-league deal, according to MLB.com. Buck, who bats left-handed, showed promise with the Athletics as a 23-year-old rookie in 2007, but his career has stalled due to various injuries and poor performance. He has posted a career .284/.366/.423 line in AAA, making him a dark horse candidate for the LF job, though he will likely start the season in Columbus.

 

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