Karns, who pitched for the Mariners in 2016, has thoracic outlet syndrome and is hoping to return to the major leagues.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Royals right-hander Nate Karns hopes that by losing a rib he will gain some relief.
The 29-year-old pitcher will miss the rest of the season to have a rib removed Wednesday in a procedure designed to take pressure off the nerve in his forearm. Karns has been dealing with pain and soreness in his right arm for months, and a seemingly endless menu of tests and treatments failed to produce a solution.
The condition is called thoracic outlet syndrome, and pitchers including the Twins’ Phil Hughes and the Mets’ Matt Harvey, along with former Royals pitchers Luke Hochevar and Dillon Gee, have undergone similar treatment in recent years.
“The biggest thing is my symptoms were kind of floating around. Every day was a little different,” Karns said before Kansas City played the Rangers on Saturday. “It took a little while to figure out what was going on. That’s why we did so many tests. We eliminated what it couldn’t be and narrowed it down to thoracic outlet syndrome. … So I’ll have the surgery and go from there.”
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The condition is caused by two muscles attached to the uppermost rib creating compression on the nerves. The result is a feeling of numbness, tingling and a “dead arm” — not good when your livelihood is wrapped around throwing a baseball close to 100 mph.
Karns was acquired from Seattle in an offseason trade for outfielder Jarrod Dyson and was off to a strong start with Kansas City. He went 2-2 with a 3.43 ERA in eight starts, striking out 49 and walking 11 in 44 2/3 innings.
Karns dealt with back trouble last season with the Mariners. He began feeling these symptoms several months ago and went on the disabled list May 24. The Royals hoped that rest would be enough.
Days turned into weeks, weeks…