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Kearns, hitting .362, has won Guillen over; plus Ozzie says LoMo is no Don Mattingly at first base

When it came to making a good first impression this pring, Austin Kearns failed to do that for Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen

Austin KearnsIn fact, if it was Guillen's decision alone to decide who was going to stick around after the first round of cuts back in early March, the 11-year veteran probably would be on another roster today.

"He got lucky he got hot for three days because he was my first release when we had [our first] meeting," Guillen said before Tuesday's game against the Rockies. "He started playing better, having better at-bats. We needed a right handed hitter and I made him compete against [Aaron] Rowand and he beat him easy."

"So far he's been great. Can he play everyday? I doubt it. But if we use him the way we use him right now he'll be very productive."

Kearns, who turned 32 on Sunday, matched a career-high with four hits and drove in two runs in Monday's 7-4 win over the Rockies -- an overlooked star because of Giancarlo Stanton's mammoth grand slam.

Although he's played in just 21 games, starting 10 of them entering Tuesday, Kearns is hitting .362 with three home runs and nine RBI. After starting the season hitting just .174, he's gone 13 for 24 over his last 11 games and is 3 for 8 in pinch hit situations.

Although he's played just one full season in the big leagues (2007 in Washington), Kearns had never been reserved to the role of a full-time bench player last season in Cleveland. 

"When you're a bench guy it's definitely better for you if you're in the National League because your probably going to get a pinch hit a day," Kearns said. "I just try to stay ready. [Greg] Dobbs is one of the best, if not the best at it. You just learn from watching and seeing what he does also."

A father of three boys, Kearns said he's been keeping up with his wife Abby and three boys in Kentucky on iPhone. Abby had the couple's last child, Cooper, on March 21. 

"The good news is all the technology nowadays helps you keep in touch with them," Kearns said. "They've been here once so far, and I got to go stay at home when we were in Cincinanti. I commuted back and forth to the games. They also came to Cleveland this past weekend. But I miss them." 

Logan Morrison picked up his first error at first base Monday when he muffed a ground ball in the ninth inning.

Asked about Morrison's defense at first, Guillen joke Tuesday: "He's better [there] than in left. And he's not that good either. For some reason, people in this organization think LoMo is a Don Mattingly in first base. I ain't seen it yet and I hope to see it soon."

Morrison, who grew up playing first base and was converted to a left fielder in 2009 because Gaby Sanchez was manning first for the Marlins, had a .989 fielding percentage in the minors at first base. His fielding percentage as an outfielder is .974. 

Coming off a knee scope in December, Morrison has battled soreness all season. That, Guillen said, is his bigger concern.

"Playing first base is not very easy," Guillen said. "You have to use your body. A lot of people say 'Well, he don't have to move.' They're wrong. They're very wrong. That base you move the most of any position besides pitcher and catcher. Because the ground ball to third base, second base you move. Fly ball to left field, you're moving all the time. Everybody at their position stays and watches the play. That's why I kind of worry about it."

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