As his teammates showered and dressed following another game, Nate Karns was prepping his belongings for a different sort of trip. In order to make room for Wednesday’s call-up Ross Ohlendorf, the Nationals would have to clear a spot for him with Karns’s position on the active roster.
Nationals Manager Davey Johnson found Karns and told him the news — that he was being optioned to Class AA Harrisburg. Karns, who had made the trip to Denver with the team as a precaution, had a feeling this would happen and took the news in stride. It was business, he reasoned, and his surprising call-up wasn’t anything he expected would happen this year anyway.
“This is all gravy right now for me.” he said. “I’m trying to do my out as much as possible.”
Through his life, Karns had worked through setbacks and disappointments, and he took Tuesday’s demotion with his normal cheerful spirit. He saw his time in the majors — three starts over 12 innings — as supremely valuable. He allowed five home runs, a lot more than he normally allows in the minors, and allowed 10 runs over 12 innings. His mid-90s fastball and stuff proved successful at the major league level; his location and command needed work.
Karns, one of the Nationals’ top pitching prospects, was told before he joined the Nationals for a brief stint not to evaluate his results or performance. Ignore the gaudy ERA and other statistics, and consume Karns’ work for what it was: an early test for one of the Nationals’ top pitching prospects. He knows he will go down the Harrisburg to work on his command, hoping to be back for longer the next time he is called.
“I’m going to take a lot,” he said. “Basically, what it takes at this level. The execution of pitches. You gotta pitch ahead, locate and work ahead of hitters. That’s the biggest difference I struggled with down here. I’m going to go back to double A and we’re going to get back to work tomorrow and hopefully get back here sooner than later.”
FROM THE POST
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse 4, Pawtucket 3: Yunesky Maya allowed one run on four hits over five innings. Christian Garcia, in his second rehab appearance for the Chiefs, tossed a scoreless inning. Zach Walters hit his 12th home run of the season.
Harrisburg 1, Richmond 0: Josh Johnson hit a pinch hit home run in the sixth inning, the winning difference in the game. Sandy Leon finished 2 for 2 with one walk. Paul Demny allowed only two hits, struck out seven and walked two over five innings. Three relievers — Matt Swynenberg, Matt Grace and Aaron Barrett — combined to allow only two hits over the next four innings.
Potomac 3, Carolina 1: Robbie Ray allowed only one run on two hits, striking out seven and pitching around four walks over seven innings. He is 5-2 with a 2.22 ERA. Michael Taylor hit his sixth homer of the season. Kevin Keyes and Jason Martinson each drove in a run.
Hickory 1, Hagerstown 0: Dixon Anderson struck out 11 batters over five 2/3 innings but walked three, gave up two hits and one run. Shawn Pleffner and Brandon Miller had the Suns’ only hits.