Nathan Karns wins final spot in Royals’ rotation

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SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) – Nathan Karns has won the crowded competition for the lone vacancy in the Kansas City Royals’ rotation, getting the nod Monday from manager Ned Yost.

Karns beat out holdover Chris Young and left-hander Travis Wood for the fifth spot.

Karns was acquired Jan. 6 from Seattle for outfielder Jarrod Dyson. The 29-year-old righty hasn’t exactly been lights-out in spring training — a 7.36 ERA in four starts, allowing nine earned runs on 14 hits over 11 innings, striking out 14 and walking four.

“He’s got three `plus’ pitches,” Yost said. “We like his power. It was a tough decision. We just had to make a decision.”

Karns was 6-2 with a 5.15 ERA in 22 games, including 15 starts, last year with the Mariners before his season ended July 20 because of a herniated disk. He is 14-9 with a 4.41 ERA in 54 career games in the majors with Washington, Tampa Bay and Seattle.

“I’ve shown I’m healthy and my changeup is there,” Karns said. “Coming to camp and kind of having a smooth road with my back issue has been very positive. That was really something I was banking on to be healthy. If I came in and wasn’t healthy, that probably would have been more disappointing than anything.”

Left-hander Danny Duffy and Ian Kennedy will front the rotation, while Jason Hammel, Jason Vargas and Karns will round it out.

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