Reliever Nate Karns threw a 20-pitch simulated game this afternoon in the intense heat at Camden Yards, sweat pouring off his face later as he sat at his locker and tried to recover in the air conditioning. He mimicked one inning and headed indoors.
Karns hasn’t pitched for the Orioles since April 8 due to stiffness in his right forearm and multiple rehab assignments have been interrupted. He’s set a goal for his return as the Orioles prepare for a three-city West Coast trip that begins Monday night in Arizona.
“We were up to two innings previously,” he said. “Now we’re going to pick up the frequency as far as appearances and make sure we’re good with that, and then it shouldn’t be too long before I can get off this IL.
“Making my steps. I feel like I’ve got at least another one and then we’ll go from there. I would love to get off this by the time this road trip is over, so we’ll see how it plays out. But I got 20 pitches in today, one inning, and now we’re going to pick up the frequency as far as getting back out there.”
Karns made Wednesday’s start at Double-A Bowie and allowed one run in two innings. He’s accumulated six appearances in his latest assignment, beginning in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
“I got two innings in,” he said. “The difficulty for me was maintaining arm strength and velocity, and I did that those two innings. Still a tick down from where I’d like to be and not quite feeling myself, but you’ve just got to keep working and get there and today was another step.
“I’ll see what the calendar says for next time, but I think it will be another one inning and we’ll see where it goes from there.”
Today had been set aside as a bullpen session before becoming a simulated game.
“Everything’s hitting the marks we wanted, so I’ve just got to keep building up arm strength and then make my appearances and if we successfully draw that, maybe be back off before the road trip is over.
“It’s definitely been a slower progression than everyone would have liked, but I feel like we’re getting close and putting in that work. Today was a pretty hot day out there, so we’ll see how everything goes tomorrow. I’ll check the schedule and I’ll see when we’re back out there again.”
Karns knows the process can’t be rushed, but it’s testing his patience.
“I don’t like sitting on the sidelines at all,” he said. “I’d rather be in between the white lines with the boys - winning and losing and contributing any way I can. Being on the side definitely eats at you, but at the end of the day you’ve got to remember you’ve got a job to do at the same time, so I’ve got to get healthy, get back and join the ballclub and help us win some ballgames.”
“He’s ready to play if needed,” said manager Brandon Hyde.
Scott worked two scoreless innings with four strikeouts on June 29 and was optioned. The task remains to become more consistent and produce results that match his upper-90s fastball and nasty slider.
“He’s throwing the ball really well in Norfolk,” Hyde said. “Last time he was here also, his last outing, he threw really well. It’s like a lot of our bullpen guys, it’s command. It’s not stuff. It’s about being able to execute pitches at this level. Being aggressive and commanding the strike zone.
Severino is celebrating his 26th birthday today. Hyde must decide later whether to start him Sunday afternoon or stick with Chance Sisco.
The heat is a factor.
Hyde, a former catcher, offered advice to Sisco prior to last night’s game. He called upon his own experiences, including the day that he became woozy in the fifth inning in Sarasota, Fla. and had to be replaced.
“I told Chance do not go outside until the game starts,” Hyde said. “I had to be walked off the field one time. I was a West Coast kid playing in humid weather one time early on in my career and I didn’t last real long.
“It’s the heat, you know? And you’ve got to drink a bunch of fluids. I told Chance that I don’t want to see him hustling on and off the field tonight, I want to see him walking on and off the field.
“When you’re a catcher and you’re catching in these types of games, it’s not easy. After the eighth inning his face was so beat red and I could see the way he ran down to first on a ground ball that it was zapping him. So you’ve just got to try to conserve as best you can.”
Severino normally would catch a day game with Sisco in the lineup tonight, but it hinges on his health.
“Hoping Sevie can go, but I don’t know that for sure,” Hyde said. “That would be the ideal situation. I am a little concerned about that, so we’ll see tomorrow.”
Hyde watched video of catcher Adley Rutschman’s home run today in the Gulf Coast League. Rutschman was playing in his first professional game.
“Congratulations on No. 1,” Hyde said. “Hopefully it’s one of many. Not in the GCL.”
Here are the starters for the series in Arizona:
For the Red Sox
Mookie Betts RF
Rafael Devers 3B
Xander Bogaerts SS
J.D. Martinez DH
Andrew Benintendi LF
Christian Vázquez C
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Michael Chavis 1B
Brock Holt 2B
Rick Porcello RHP
Update: Christian Vázquez had an RBI single in the second inning and Jackie Bradley Jr. followed with a three-run homer to put the Orioles in a 4-0 hole.
Update II: Rafael Devers led off the third with a home run and it’s 5-0.
Update III: Richie Martin and Trey Mancini doubled in the third and Renato Núñez hit a three-run homer to reduce the lead to 5-4. Chris Davis singled off the fence in left-center field and the game is tied.
Update IV: Mookie Betts’ two-run homer in the fourth untied it. The Red Sox sent 11 batters to the plate and scored eight runs, three on another Bradley home run off Jimmy Yacabonis. Tom Eshelman is charged with nine runs, five of them earned.
Update V: Yacabonis allowed three more runs in the fifth for a 16-5 lead. He retired only one batter tonight and surrendered seevn runs and eight hits. He also walked a batter and threw two wild pitches.
Update VI: Anthony Santander homered in the fifth, the ball landing on Eutaw Street and cutting the lead to 16-6.