A new nickname for McCatty, plus Karns confident leg issues are minor

VIERA, Fla. - Davey Johnson debuted a new nickname for Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty today: “Mother Hen McCatty.”

“He likes to have (his pitchers) close and at hand,” Johnson said, breaking out into a giant smile.

Johnson joked that “Mother Hen” didn’t handle yesterday’s beatdown by the Cardinals too well.

“After giving up 16 runs yesterday, he had a hard day yesterday and a hard night last night,” Johnson said.

McCatty will be pleased to hear that right-hander Nathan Karns got a clean bill of health from team doctors, this after Karns has dealt with some discomfort in his right leg during his last two outings.

“He passed all the tests and the doctor looked at him today,” Johnson said. “He’ll throw on the side tomorrow and we’ll make a determination (on how to use him) from there.”

Even before meeting with the doctors, Karns sounded confident that the leg injury wasn’t something too serious. He described it as some tightness and couldn’t really pinpoint the exact location of the discomfort, saying it pretty much was in his entire leg.

“No, there’s no alarms going off for me personally,” he said this morning. “It’s just one of those things that it’s the beginning of the year, you’ve got to iron out some of the kinks and this is the first kink for me. Sucks it happened, but I’ve just got to deal with it until I can get back and be ready for the season.”

Karns, the Nationals’ minor league Pitcher of the Year last season, enjoyed a stellar debut this spring, working two scoreless innings against the Mets. In his next outing, however, Karns walked two and was pulled after just one inning of work. Then yesterday, Karns allowed seven runs (one earned) in just two-thirds of an inning.

“The second outing is initially when it happened and we felt comfortable enough with it (to keep pitching),” Karns said. “It doesn’t affect my play too much, just right now it’s really affecting my strikes, my pitch location and all that. The (velocity) is fine, but if I can’t pitch and throw strikes, we’ve got to take care of that first and foremost.

“I think it’s more of a mental distraction. I can feel it back there, and it’s just kind of like every pitch, I feel it. I feel it. It’s just one of those things that I’m going to meet with the doctor and once he reassures me there’s nothing to worry about, I think I’ll be able to get over this mental hump right now.”

Meanwhile, Johnson said Chris Young could end up throwing more than 45 pitches today in his spring debut, but the skipper would be happy if Young could go three solid innings this afternoon.

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