Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Nate Karns has same goal with new team

DUNEDIN — Throughout his childhood, Rays right-hander Nathan Karns' home was a moving target.

Karns' father, David, was a Navy commander, and the family lived in five states before he turned 12. Born in Franklin, Pa., Karns adjusted quickly in military bases in Pensacola, Hawaii and New Orleans before settling in Dallas, loving how fighter jets often flew overhead.

"To be able to live across the country for several years at a time is very rewarding," he said. "I think it prepared me for the lifestyle I try to live, different states to call home."

Karns, 26, had to make another unexpected move last month, when he was acquired from the Nationals for catcher Jose Lobaton and two prospects the day before the Rays reported. His spring address might have changed from Viera to Port Charlotte, but his goal remained the same: crack a big-league rotation.

And manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday that Karns is still in the mix for the fifth starter's spot, along with Jake Odorizzi, Erik Bedard and Cesar Ramos.

"He's a very confident young man," Maddon said. "He knows he's good, and I kind of like that. He's competing for a job, and he made no bones about that in the beginning. He's interesting, and a lot of it has to do with his self-confidence."

Karns backed it up on the mound Wednesday, throwing 3⅓ scoreless innings against a Blue Jays lineup that included Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder scattered three hits in a 46-pitch outing. He hit 92-94 mph with his fastball and struck out Colby Rasmus with a nasty curveball.

"Made me look stupid," Rasmus said, "so I guess that's good."

Karns flashed potential in the lower minors, going 11-4, 2.17 at two Class A stops in 2012 and 10-6, 3.26 at Double-A Harrisburg last year before making three starts with the Nationals (0-1, 7.50). The Rays love his mound presence and the downward angle on his pitches (fastball, curveball, sinker, changeup), believing he has the strength and size to grow into a 200-inning type starter.

Whether Karns is ready for the rotation now, he said, is up to the Rays to decide. "I don't know who's in the running still, they said there are four names," he said. "I'm going to focus on what I can control and let everybody else worry about that."

Karns gained plenty of perspective in his difficult journey. He transferred from North Carolina State to Texas Tech after his freshman season to be closer to home and help his mother, Tambra, who battled cancer and a debilitating stroke.

"She's good now, but it was a bad time in her life," Karns said. "She's a tough woman that keeps on trucking."

Karns showed resilience, too, going through a grueling rehab after shoulder surgery in 2010 to repair a torn labrum. A 12th-round pick in 2009, Karns said it was tough to watch others get promoted while he was "still in the starting gate," as he barely pitched the next two years.

"That really built an understanding of how important a second chance really is," Karns said. "And it showed how much this game meant to me."

He bounced back in a big way, getting named Nationals minor-league pitcher of the year in 2012, his first full pro season, and turning into the touted prospect the Rays coveted.

"I started two years behind everyone," he said. "So to be where I am today is just mind-blowing, to be honest with you."

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]bay.com. Follow him on Twitter @TBTimes_JSmith.

Comments
Brent Honeywell, Willy Adames lead Rays prospects in Baseball Americaís top 100

Brent Honeywell, Willy Adames lead Rays prospects in Baseball Americaís top 100

The Rays had two players in the top 20 and six overall in Baseball America's annual ranking of the game's top 100 prospects.RHP Brent Honeywell heads the Rays contingent at No. 14 with shortstop Willy Adames at No. 19.The other ranked Rays are 1B/LHP...
Published: 01/22/18
Why free agency hasnít turned out fun (yet) for ex-Rays pitcher Alex Cobb

Why free agency hasnít turned out fun (yet) for ex-Rays pitcher Alex Cobb

RHP Alex Cobb never expected to be going into late January without knowing where he was going for spring training.The longtime Ray's first foray into free agency hasn't gone as planned, much like the 150-plus others waiting for something to give in a...
Published: 01/20/18
Updated: 01/21/18
Rays infielder Daniel Robertson lends a hand to help families dealing with cancer

Rays infielder Daniel Robertson lends a hand to help families dealing with cancer

Rays infielder Daniel Robertson has much to be excited about heading into his second season in the majors.But before packing for spring training, he took some time last weekend to provide help for families needing assistance in dealing with cancer.Hi...
Published: 01/19/18
Ex-Rays star Longoria dons Giants jersey, looks forward to full-stadium environment in San Francisco

Ex-Rays star Longoria dons Giants jersey, looks forward to full-stadium environment in San Francisco

Longtime Rays star Evan Longoria was formally introduced in San Francisco today, adding the visual of him pulling on his new Giants jersey, switching to No. 10 since 3 is retired.Longoria said he welcomed the chance to play on a contending team stock...
Published: 01/19/18
What do Rays look like now? What will they look like March 29?

What do Rays look like now? What will they look like March 29?

ST. PETERSBURG — Since entering an off-season planning major change and pledging to be open to "anything and everything,'' the Rays have made a few minor moves and one massive one in trading franchise cornerstone Evan Longoria to San Francisco....
Published: 01/19/18
Reminder: Rays spring tickets go on sale today at 10 a.m.

Reminder: Rays spring tickets go on sale today at 10 a.m.

The Rays will put single game tickets for spring training home games on sale today at 10 a.m. via raysbaseball.com.The Rays are playing 14 home games in Port Charlotte, starting with the Feb. 23 opener vs. Pittsburgh. Tickets will be available at the...
Published: 01/19/18
Tampa Bay Rays 2018 spring training schedule

Tampa Bay Rays 2018 spring training schedule

Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Rd., Port Charlotte, 33948Get tickets here: (941) 206-4487Pitchers report: Feb. 13. Squad reports: Feb. 19TEAM SCHEDULE(games at 1:05 unless noted)(ss - split squad)Feb 23 at Orioles (ss) (Sarasota)Feb 23 PIRATE...
Published: 01/19/18
Ex-Phillies, Indians manager Charlie Manuel to get Ted Williams Museum award

Ex-Phillies, Indians manager Charlie Manuel to get Ted Williams Museum award

Former Phillies and Indians manager Charlie Manuel will receive the Ted Williams Lifetime Achievement Award on Feb. 10 in Clearwater.The honor is bestowed by the Ted Williams Museum at its annual Hitters Hall of Fame induction, moving this year from ...
Published: 01/19/18
Former Rays OF Matt Joyce to hold annual charity baseball camp at North Brandon complex

Former Rays OF Matt Joyce to hold annual charity baseball camp at North Brandon complex

Armwood High product Matt Joyce, the current A's and former Rays outfielder, hosts his ninth annual Sweet Swingin' charity baseball camp for kids 6-12 on Sunday at the North Brandon youth baseball complex (2929 S Kingsway Rd, Seffner).Registration st...
Published: 01/18/18
Rays spring tickets go on sale Friday

Rays spring tickets go on sale Friday

The Rays will put single game tickets for spring training home games on sale Friday at 10 a.m. via raysbaseball.com.The Rays are playing 14 home games in Port Charlotte, starting with the Feb. 23 opener vs. Pittsburgh. Tickets will be available at th...
Published: 01/17/18