BALTIMORE -- The Orioles have officially cut ties with their lone free-agent signing this winter, releasing veteran right-hander Nate Karns on Wednesday. The move likely ends Karns’ fourth consecutive campaign lost to arm issues.
Signed with the hope he could revive his career in the back end of the Orioles’ rotation, Karns ended up appearing in just four games. He’d been on the injured list with a strained right forearm since early April, and is owed roughly $240,000 for the remainder of the season.
Karns was designated for assignment on July 26 and outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk after clearing waivers, but he never appeared for the Tides in a non-rehab capacity. Karns had previously allowed 10 runs in 10 1/3 innings across two rehab stints, each of which was shut down due to lingering discomfort in his right arm. He was never able to regain his mid-90s fastball velocity after it sank into the high-80s in April.
A veteran with more than four years of Major League service time, Karns is 16-12 with a 4.30 ERA in 67 career appearances, 56 of them starts. His last full season came in 2015, when he posted a 3.67 ERA in 27 games (26 starts) for the Rays. But he underwent surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome in 2017, missed all of 2018 due to elbow trouble, spent this season fighting forearm issues and has also undergone Tommy John surgery.
From the trainer's room
The Orioles didn’t need to make an additional move to replace DJ Stewart on the active roster after placing him on the 7-day concussion list on Tuesday night. They were already planning to reinstate left-hander John Means from the 10-day IL for his start on Wednesday; doing so provided a built-in replacement for Stewart.
Manager Brandon Hyde indicated, though, that they’d have to reconfigure before long, hinting at possibly adding a position player after Thursday’s off-day. Stewart’s injury put the Orioles back to a two-man bench, and played a role in the team starting three natural infielders in the outfield on Wednesday.
With Dwight Smith Jr. (strained left calf strain) and Stewart inactive, Anthony Santander at DH and Jace Peterson on the bench opposite Yankees lefty James Paxton, the Orioles were forced to start Hanser Alberto in left for the first time in his career. Stevie Wilkerson manned center, with Trey Mancini in right.
Entering this season, Alberto, Wilkerson and Mancini had 13 combined innings of professional experience at those positions.
Odds and ends
Also clearing waivers was infielder Jose Rondon, whom the Orioles outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk. Rondon appeared in one game for the Orioles after they claimed him off waivers from the White Sox prior to the Trade Deadline. He now profiles as middle infield depth at Norfolk, where Zach Vincej, Christopher Bostick and Jack Reinheimer have gotten the bulk of the reps this season.