Orioles right-hander Nate Karns pitched a scoreless ninth inning Monday in the 12-4 win over the Oakland Athletics, but it'll be a little while before he's on the mound again.
Karns, the only major league free agent the Orioles signed this offseason, was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right forearm strain Tuesday afternoon, the team announced. Right-hander Evan Phillips was added to the roster in his place.
“He's got some arm fatigue, so we felt like the best thing was to almost hit the reset button a little bit with him, and give him 10 days or so to kind of back off,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We thought for his long-term health, or to keep him healthy this year, this was the right thing to do. His [velocity] was a little bit down last night. We kind of discussed it after the game, and we're going to hit the reset button for him and give him a little time off.”
Karns missed all of 2018 with a forearm injury, and combined with his 2017 shoulder injury, that meant his return to the mound on March 30 as the "opener" of a bullpen game was his first time on a major league mound since May 19, 2017.
He was used as the opener twice in two-inning stints, and has two relief appearances since going to the bullpen full-time. He needed just 10 pitches to finish off Monday's game, but his fastball velocity averaged 89.01 mph during that outing. It was 91.51 mph in his first outing.
“It wasn't like a one-day thing,” Karns said. “It was just something where my velocity was just dipping down and kind of spooked some guys. We felt like it was best to give it 10 days now and just get back out there, instead of it keeping going in a direction we didn't want it to go.”
Karns said it’s more tightness than soreness, and said he couldn’t even throw last year, so doesn’t want the two conflated.
“I normally don't throw at 88-89 [mph],” Karns said. “I was still able to gout there and impact a game in a manner I thought was beneficial, but with the velocity trending downward from the beginning fo the season, we just wanted to deal with it.”
Phillips provides another right-handed short relief arm, and joins the Orioles after a spring training in which he didn't allow an earned run. He allowed three hits but no runs and struck out two in 1 2/3 innings in his only outing of the season at Triple-A Norfolk.
“We've got Evan here,” Hyde said. “We're excited about that. Obviously he had a great spring training, showed a really good fastball and slider and we're looking forward to watching him pitch.”