Mariners pitchers Nick Vincent, Nathan Karns taking team-first approach to adversity

Jun 29, 2016, 7:18 PM | Updated: Jun 30, 2016, 9:40 am

Reliever Nick Vincent has struggled since developing a back issue that has landed him on the disabl...

Reliever Nick Vincent has struggled since developing a back issue that has landed him on the disabled list. (AP)


Mariners reliever Nick Vincent is heading to the disabled list and starter Nathan Karns is now in the bullpen. The moves may or may not be related even though they were separated by just a day. What was interesting, however, was the reactions of both players.

It’s not easy to give in to injury and be out of action for 15 days, and there is no doubt a good amount of sting involved with being removed from the starting rotation. Despite this, both Vincent and Karns are taking a team-first attitude to the moves.

“I want to go out there and help the team as much as I can, and I am not helping the team right now at all,” said Vincent, whose MRI earlier in the day showed a mid-back strain. “It makes me sick going out there and I have lost three or four games when I know this team is this good and we have got a good chance of doing something.”

Vincent has been dealing with a back that has been locking up on him for about two weeks. Some days it would loosen up enough for him to pitch, other days he was unavailable. Since the injury, he has given up four home runs in just nine games and seen his ERA jump from 2.08 to 3.47. Between performance and availability, he realized he was not helping a taxed bullpen.

“I just don’t like doing that,” he said. “If you are going to be on the DL, go on the DL so they can get a fresh arm so your eighth-inning guy and ninth-inning guy aren’t throwing in games that are useless. Just take it. Fifteen days, come back healthy and help the team.”

Vincent has shown he can do that – when healthy. He will be shut down for five days while receiving treatment and working on core strengthening. He will then resume his throwing program, and the hope is he will be ready to come off the DL when eligible after the All-Star break.

“Usually small things like this I can deal with, but this one is just not releasing,” he said. “It should just need 15 days and we should be good from there.”

For Karns, who may be a bit surprised to find himself in the bullpen, the important thing is he is still with the team he broke camp with back in April.

“I’m just going to pick it up and run with it,” he said of his new role. “I have an opportunity to sit here and contribute and help the team win, and at the end of the day that’s all you can ask, in my opinion.”

The move was an interesting one. Instead of sending Karns to Tacoma to work out his problems as a starter and give them additional depth at the position, the Mariners will instead see if he can be used to address an important area of need. Keeping him at the major-league level is a move about now, not the future. If the arm they need is not available on the market right now, why not see if it is in house? Karns is up for the challenge.

“I’m still here, that’s what’s important,” he said. “I know that they trust me enough and they believe in me that I can accomplish anything they need out of me in the bullpen, so I’m going to take that and run with it and see where it takes me.”

It is not out of the ordinary to see a player fight the DL and try to be a hero when not really helping the team, or be unwilling to make a change of position. While the team has had its struggles of late, both Vincent and Karns see the opportunity for important games in the coming months, and both want to be a part of them. In order to be there, Vincent and Karns are doing what is necessary now.

“For me, it’s an opportunity to contribute and help support this clubhouse,” Karns said. “It was nice to have broke with them and I am going to do everything in my power to stay here.”

Team: mariners
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Wednesday, June 7 @ 1:10 pm

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