Right-hander Nathan Karns is most thankful to be able to complete a full season with the Nationals organization. Karns missed 2010 because of shoulder surgery and half of the 2011 season rehabbing from the surgery.
Karns, who was honored Friday as the minor league Pitcher of the Year within the organization, said being healthy this season will really important to advancement of his career.
"To have a full season and stay healthy was an accomplishment for me," Karns said. "I have to thank the rehab coordinator Steve Gober and all the trainers I played for this year. They did a great job of keeping me healthy and keeping me on the field.
"You can't play if you are not on the field. I missed a lot of time already. That was our goal coming in is to eliminate missing games and making my every fifth day start."
The Nationals capped off his innings at around 160 this season after 55 1/3 innings in 2011.
"It is the bigger picture," Karns said on the innings limits. "They have a plan for us. All you can do is when they say go out and play you go out and do your best."
Karns said all of his pitches were improved from last season, and that command helped him get a ton of hitters out at two levels this year.
"(With my) fastball, we worked on throwing for strikes, working it in and out," Karns said. "(The) curveball, throwing it for strikes, not necessary to have the big bite on it but making sure you can throw it for strike one or two or whatever the count is, and the changeup, to get them off your fastball. I think I improved on all three of those. Hopefully, I can pick up another one or two in the offseason."
Karns said he was helped out by facing against very tough hitters in the high Single-A Carolina League, which made him step up his game.
"The guys at each level you get up to are better and better hitters," Karns said. "Not just the No. 1 and No. 2 hitters, but the whole lineup. You have to be careful. You can't get lazy on the mound or lackadaisical because you leave one over the middle, anyone is going to run it out of the ballpark."
Karns has his throwing and workout program for next year already in place.
"I will try to repeat the same type of success I had this year, next year," he said.
Karns will now get some time off before he starts that off season program and then prepare for what will likely be a promotion to Double-A Harrisburg in 2013.