Karns excited for 'new chapter' in Seattle
Right-hander welcomes challenge of expectations with new club
SEATTLE -- Nathan Karns has never pitched in Safeco Field, but the newest Mariners hurler knows a good thing when he sees it.
"Oh man. I fell in love with it when we came through last year," said Karns, a rookie last season with the Rays. "My fiancée was on that trip with me. She fell in love with the town, and we actually talked about how nice it would be to play there. Lo and behold, now I was traded there. I'm excited to see the city and meet my new teammates and organization. It's definitely a new chapter and bright spot for me."
Karns is excited to be coming to a team that has an open rotation spot awaiting him. He went 7-5 with a 3.67 ERA in 27 games last season, but he was caught in a logjam with a Rays organization thick with starting pitching.
"This is the first time in my career I've been told I'm going to be in a rotation prior to Spring Training," he said. "For me, that's something I take a lot of pride in, but it's also a lot of responsibility. I need to be ready to make every start every fifth day. As exciting as this is, it's another reminder that I have a job to get ready for this offseason."
Karns was traded to the Mariners on Thursday night along with reliever C.J. Riefenhauser and outfielder Boog Powell, in exchange for shortstop Brad Miller, first baseman Logan Morrison and reliever Danny Farquhar.
Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto called it a good trade for both teams, with fresh opportunities for players going to teams that had more needs for their specific positions. Karns is the beneficiary on one side and Miller -- who has been told he'll return to shortstop for the Rays -- clearly embraces the chance for a new beginning in St. Petersburg, just 90 minutes from his home in Windermere, Fla.
"There are a lot of emotions going on, but right now I'm just pretty fired up," Miller said. "There are a lot of positives, my friends and family getting to be that close, being in Florida and getting to a spot where they want me to play shortstop."
Miller transitioned to a super-utility role last season, playing the outfield for the first time after rookie Ketel Marte took over as the starting shortstop in the second half. But the Rays intend to move Miller back to the position he's played all through high school, college and his pro career.
"It was very relieving to hear them say, 'Hey Brad, we know what you are. We believe in you,'" Miller said. "Because that's exactly what I know about myself and how I feel. That's all you can ask, for somebody you're on the same page with, who believes in you."
But Miller isn't holding any grudges against the team that gave him his start in pro ball.
"Every year in the big leagues has different challenges," he said. "I just know I can fight. I know I'll do anything asked of me. I'll battle through the tough times, try to hold my head high and do things the right way regardless of circumstances. I think I've matured and grown a lot and am a better player for it.
"The Mariners are the team that drafted me, and all my friends coming up through the Minor Leagues are guys I got to play with at the big league level. Playing at one of the most beautiful stadiums in the country … I'll never forget the day at Safeco making my debut against the Cubs. You take all the memories and it's pretty dear to the heart. It's playing in the big leagues. It was my dream."