Tale of two pitchers for Karns in latest start

Righty settles down for effective outing after early command issues

Tale of two pitchers for Karns in latest start

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Nathan Karns doesn't need to be reminded that he's engaged in a tight competition with James Paxton for the fifth spot in the Mariners' rotation -- not that it doesn't cross his mind from time to time.

But worry about it? Karns, the Mariners' right-handed pitcher, said no good at all can come from that.

"It's not like it's going to do me any good worrying about it. I'm just going to stick to my five-day schedule and try to make it the same as last week and keep going until they make that decision," Karns said after he left the Mariners' 7-1 victory over the Rangers.

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"I don't want to sit here and think about it. I know Paxton doesn't want to, either. It's in our best interest to focus on what we can control and let everything else take care of itself."

Karns had mixed results in his longest outing of spring against the Rangers at the Peoria Sports Complex, as he struggled with fastball command early but found a groove late, allowing one run on three hits in 4 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts.

"The tale of two stories," Karns said. "The first half not so good, the second half [was] much better. Nothing really clicked right off the bat. But the defense made some big plays. I needed my defense today."

The Mariners turned double plays behind Karns in the second and third innings. Karns, who threw 81 pitches (41 strikes, 40 balls) was sharper as the game wore on, getting good mileage out of his curveball.

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In fact, Karns struck out four of the final five batters he faced.

"[Catcher Chris Iannetta] did a great job with that. He recognized that the fastball was staying up in the zone. That's kind of a pitch [curveball] that gets me back down through the zone," Karns said.

Seattle manager Scott Servais agreed with Karns' assessment in that this start was more or less two different starts.

"He was messed up mechanically [early], and it took him a while to get back in sync. It was two different pitchers out there, the first couple of innings from the last couple of innings," Servais said.

So far this spring, Paxton has allowed 11 earned runs in 11 innings. After his start against the Rangers, Karns has allowed five earned runs in 13 2/3 innings.

Like Karns, Paxton figures to get at least two more starts before the team breaks camp in Arizona after facing the Rockies on April 2.

• Two days after releasing right-handed pitcher Justin De Fratus, the team announced that it has resigned him to a Minor League deal that includes an invitation to big league camp. De Fratus, who signed a Major League deal with Seattle in December, has allowed three runs in six innings in four spring games with four strikeouts and three walks.

• First baseman Adam Lind was scheduled to start Friday's game against the Rangers but was scratched because he was sick. Jesus Montero replaced Lind in the starting lineup at first base.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.