DENVER — Needing space on their 25-man roster to add Wednesday’s starting pitcher, Ross Ohlendorf, the Washington Nationals optioned right-hander Nate Karns back to Double-A Harrisburg after Tuesday’s loss to the Colorado Rockies.
Karns, who was summoned to take Ross Detwiler’s spot in the rotation when the latter went down with a right oblique injury, made three starts in the first major league stint of his career. He was 0-1 with a 7.50 ERA in 12 innings of work.
Manager Davey Johnson told Karns he was impressed by his talent, but that the 25-year-old needs to work on locating his pitches.
“I told him he’s got a great arm, but it’s all about command,” Johnson said. “Up here, you’ve got to locate. He’s got good stuff, but you can’t keep throwing down the center. You can’t keep missing. You’ve got to hit your spots. It’s all command for him. He’ll be fine.”
Karns showed good stuff when he was up here with a mid-90s fastball, a good curveball and a decent changeup. He went back to Double-A with an upbeat attitude.
“I’m going to take a lot (from the experience of being in the big leagues),” he said. “I can’t really narrow it down but basically what (I learned is what) it takes to play at this level. The execution and pitching.
“You’ve just got to locate and work ahead of hitters. That’s the big difference that I struggled with here. I’m going to go down to Double-A, I’m going to get back to work tomorrow and hopefully be back here sooner than later.”
The Nationals had to feel somewhat confident in the healthy returns of Ross Detwiler and Stephen Strasburg to even consider optioning Karns at this time. Detwiler is on track to start on Thursday and Strasburg is scheduled to start on Sunday.
For Karns, the next turn will have to wait.
“This is the type of experience you can never get back,” Karns said. “It broke the ice for me. Now I know what it takes. I’m going to go back and fine tune my craft and give another shot at it in the future.”