Despite receiving a warm round of applause as he left the field during Monday’s spring-training game, Royals pitcher Nathan Karns gave an almost imperceptible shake of his head.
Karns was not happy with himself after giving up two base runners to the Diamondbacks, prompting manager Ned Yost to call on a reliever in the Royals’ 4-1 loss. The thing is: The plan was for Karns to throw 45 pitches, but he cruised through three innings in just 34 pitches.
Pitching coach Dave Eiland suggested a little more work in the bullpen, Karns said, but he wanted to stay in the game.
“It kind of backfired for me,” Karns said. “I threw four straight balls and the fifth pitch got hit for a single. Not as much work as I would have liked to have done going back out, but I was just pleased to have the opportunity to go out there for four.”
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Karns was sharp through the first three innings, allowing just an infield single to Domingo Leyba, who was later caught stealing. Monday’s good outing came after Karns threw two perfect innings in his first spring start.
It’s just what Karns had hoped for as he competes for a spot in the rotation.
“For early right now, I’m able to get the action on the pitches that I’m trying to execute,” Karns said. The velo (velocity) is going to come. I’ve just got to be patient with that, try not to rush it. I’m just trying to keep my body progressing. … Right now, executing my change-up is the biggest thing for me.”
Arizona tacked on a pair of runs in the sixth inning, and the Royals, 7-4, scored their lone run in the eighth when Alex Gordon’s single brought in Alfredo Escalera.
“Really not a whole lot of offense today,” Yost said. “(Lorenzo) Cain and Gordy were good last at-bats. I was pleased with that. They wanted the extra at-bats, so they stayed in there longer than normal.”
Kelvin Herrera’s spring debut should make Royals fans happy. He cruised through a scoreless fifth inning and struck out one. Herrera said he wasn’t ready to pitch, but wasn’t anxious.
“I’ve been throwing a lot of bullpens,” Herrera said. “Obviously, I want to get in the game, but I’m trusting the process.”
Al Alburquerque gave up two runs on three hits and a walk in the sixth, Luke Farrell struck out two after allowing two one-out base runners and Yender Caramo tossed his fourth scoreless inning of the spring.
The regular guys
In addition to his RBI, Gordon beat the shift in the third inning with a sharp single to left field as part of a two-hit game.
Third baseman Mike Moustakas was 0 for 2, Cain hit a double in the seventh inning and Jorge Soler had a hit in three at-bats.
Catcher Salvador Perez made a perfect throw as he caught Leyba trying to swipe second.
The young guys
Jorge Bonifacio continued his strong spring with a hard-hit single through shortstop in the third inning. He is hitting .467.
First-base prospect Ryan O’Hearn was 0 for 2.