Orioles' Nate Karns' spring setback 'hinders being able to be stretched out' for Opening Day rotation

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Orioles right-hander Nate Karns came through his Tuesday appearance against the Pittsburgh Pirates healthy, manager Brandon Hyde said, though the fact that he had eight days between his first and second appearances to rest general arm soreness and pitched just one inning "hinders being able to be stretched out" as a starter for the beginning of the major league season.

"We still have two-and-a-half weeks to go, so there's still a little bit of time, but any setback right now from your innings standpoint … the starters are starting to go a little bit more now as we go along," Hyde said.

Karns missed most of 2017 after surgery to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome, which constricts movement in the shoulder area, and didn't pitch in the regular season in 2018 with elbow soreness. He pitched 1 2/3 innings in his first Orioles appearance Feb. 25 and felt good after that outing. But when it came time to throw a bullpen session before he was set to start again March 1, Karns felt he wasn't recovering as fast as he wanted, so he got extra time between games.

"With Nate, he's just had issues the last couple years, and has dealt with injuries, so our main focus is his health," Hyde said. "We're not going to put him in any position to get hurt, and we're not going to try and push through any kind of injury or any kind of soreness right now. We're going to just do what's best for him."

Karns said he felt well after Tuesday's outing, and Hyde said nothing changed a day later.

"I think he just wanted to make sure he got through the inning and kind of was pacing himself a little bit," Hyde said. "Today, all indication was everything was good. I think we're going to wait a few more days. I'm not sure what his schedule is, but we're going to wait a few more days, and then get him back out there again. Nothing new to update there except that he got through it and felt healthy after his inning."

Karns was signed as the club's only major league free agent in early February, and was penciled in as an early candidate to join Dylan Bundy, Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner in the rotation.

But with spring training more than half over and the Orioles not in a position to rush anyone back considering their modest expectations, Hyde said Karns and reliever Richard Bleier, who had lat muscle surgery last summer and is throwing live batting practice Wednesday as he works his way back, won't be hurried.

"Health is the No. 1 thing," Hyde said. "We're not going to push through anything at this point. We're not in a rush to get anybody out there. You want to be healthy when you break, but if you're not all the way there, I'm not going to rush you to make the 25-man roster at the end of spring. I want guys to be healthy throughout the whole season, so there's just no rush with anybody right now."

Wynns tweaks oblique

Catcher Austin Wynns felt soreness in his oblique area during batting practice Tuesday, Hyde said, and will be held out of games to let that heal.

"Wynns has got a little bit of an oblique — just sore," Hyde said. "You're not going to see him for a few days, but his side just got sore during BP yesterday."

Catcher Jesús Sucre's arrival in camp earlier this week gave the Orioles six catchers in camp, with Wynns, Sucre, Chance Sisco, Carlos Pérez, Andrew Susac and Martin Cervenka all vying for major league looks this spring.

No update on Davis

First baseman Chris Davis, who was scratched Tuesday with a sore hip flexor, was "a little sore" Wednesday, Hyde said.

"We're still day-to-day on him," Hyde said. "I think it's going to be tomorrow or the next day. I'm not really sure. When I left, he was still getting treatment."

Around the horn

Yefry Ramirez, Dillon Tate, Miguel Castro, Branden Kline and Josh Osich are scheduled to follow Mike Wright against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday, with Andrew Cashner starting Friday against the Boston Red Sox and David Hess and Dylan Bundy splitting starting duties in Saturday's split-squad games.

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