Karns named No. 5 starter; Young, Wood to bullpen

Offseason acquisition made 15 starts for Mariners in 2016

Karns named No. 5 starter; Young, Wood to bullpen

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The first major decision of this Royals camp came down Monday, as manager Ned Yost named right-hander Nathan Karns as his No. 5 starter.

Karns, acquired in the offseason from the Mariners for Jarrod Dyson, had been battling with right-hander Chris Young and left-hander Travis Wood for the No. 5 spot.

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"[Yost] called me in this morning and said 'Congratulations, you're our No. 5 starter,'" Karns said, smiling. "It's something I have worked really hard for."

In four starts this spring, Karns has had mixed results; he has given up seven earned runs in his last two outings and has a 7.36 ERA overall.

"The [disk] injury last year was strong motivation for me to have a good camp," Karns said. "I feel I've overcome that completely. The results so far aren't exactly what I wanted, but I guess I showed them enough and I was healthy enough and I improved enough with my changeup that they gave me this honor.

Karns strikes out Arcia

"I'm very excited to get to work with the staff. I've already sat down with Sal [Perez] and Drew [Butera] and we talked about my likes and dislikes as a pitcher."

Young has transitioned between the bullpen and a starting role in his previous two seasons with the Royals. Wood has worked primarily out of the bullpen the past two seasons -- he had a 2.95 ERA in 77 appearances (no starts) for the Cubs last season -- but signed with the Royals as a free agent in hopes of landing a starting job.

"We like the versatility of CY and Travis Wood in the bullpen," Yost said. "We won a world championship with CY in that role. We like the mental toughness of them being able to adjust to starting and making it a smooth transition.

"It was a tough decision. But we just had to make a decision at this part of camp. We could have pulled a name out of a hat and all three would have been good decisions. But we had to make a decision because we don't have the innings left in Spring Training to have seven starters."

Young and Wood will immediately begin to work back into one- and two-inning spurts here in the final days of camp.

Wood will give the Royals three left-handers in the bullpen now, joining Matt Strahm and Mike Minor. The final spot could come down to another left-hander in Scott Alexander.

Yost hinted Monday that he's concerned, however, about having a bullpen with too many left-handers.

"We have a ways to go before we have to make that decision," Yost said.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.