HOT STOVE LEAGUE RECAP WITH MAT LATOS
Mat Latos joined Jim Kelch last night at the Holy Grail Banks for the weekly Reds Hot Stove League radio show.
Here are some quotes and photos from the show…
Kelch asked Latos about living in Cincinnati now, year-round…
Latos: It makes a lot of sense I’m hoping I can be here as long as I can. It’s actually the first time I’ve felt like I’ve been wanted. I feel welcome here. My (new) house is starting to feel like a home. I’d like to be here as long as possible. It just makes a lot of sense to be here.
I’m closer to (my Florida) home; I grew up in Ft. Lauderdale and my parents live in central Virginia. It’s only an 8-hour drive to see my parents and an hour-and-a-half/2-hour flight to Ft. Lauderdale. And I can come here and work out at the field and I can work out at Beacon Health. I just had surgery, so I had everything taken care of there (Beacon), so it just seems like the right move.
On getting involved in the community during the offseason…
Latos: Every Wednesday, I go down and work with the Urban Youth Academy. If I live here, I might as well make as much of an impact as I can. People come out and see us play, so it’s one of the better ways – if not thee best way to give back to the community.
On his elbow issues at the end of the 2013 season…
Latos: I had four bone chips removed from my elbow. It kind of just came about in our last series against Pittsburgh, at home. I was out throwing and I felt fine. The next day, I couldn’t straighten my arm out. It was real stiff, real sore and it felt like there was something in the joint. I told (Bryan) Price, ‘Look, there’s something going on and I want to make you aware of it so Leake or Cueto can start that game (the one-game playoff at Pittsburgh) if need be.’ So they decided to leave me off the (Wild Card) roster.
If I needed to pitch, I would’ve pitched, but I don’t think it would’ve been the smart thing to do; but I’m not the type of person to back away from something like that. I was disappointed in myself that I couldn’t pitch but (it would’ve been a risk had I pitched).
I had the surgery a week after the season ended. I’m about done with therapy. For the first time in about four or five years, I’m actually able to straighten my arm out completely. I’m ahead of schedule for rehabbing, so I’m about to start throwing in mid-December. I’m excited. My arm has never felt this good in a long time.
On being able to work out at Great American Ball Park…
Latos: In San Diego, when I was there, every offseason we were trying to fight to find someone to throw with. Nobody was really coming over to the field. Having to find someone to work on me to do the necessary things I need to do to prepare for Spring Training (was difficult).
It just makes a lot of sense to be here. ’Steve-O’ (Reds trainer Steve Baumann) is here all the time, he lives here and Tomas (Vera), another one of the Reds trainers is here, so I’m able to go to the field and get worked on.
On a new Reds coaching regime…
Latos: It’s going to be a complete overhaul from what I gathered. I’m excited for it. Dusty was a great manager. The success he’s had over the years has proven that. But it’s a business and sometimes it’s time to move on and get some fresh blood in there and see where the road takes us.
I think it was a smart move because you can’t afford to lose a guy like Price. Just look at what he’s done with the pitching staff. Looking at the past two years since I’ve been here, what he’s done and how smart he is. He’s an intelligent guy. He knows the game real well. So to have him here as a manager, it’s going to help out with the pitching moves later in the game and that kind of stuff. And to retain Mack Jenkins, as well, is definitely going to help us because he’s that guy that nobody really knows about during the year, but he’s that guy who was Price’s right-hand man in the bullpen every time we were throwing.
As far as anything else, I can’t tell you everybody else on the coaching staff until it’s released. But I’m excited for it. We have a lot of new guys coming in that we’ll have to get to know, but it’s going to be exciting.
On making the transition from a pitcher’s ballpark in San Diego to a hitter’s ballpark in Cincinnati…
Latos: I definitely had to learn how to pitch, that’s for sure. Coming up when I was young, I just thought I could throw 98 and throw the ball by everybody in San Diego. And I got away with it, somewhat, but coming here – it’s a different story. I’ve learned how to pitch and I’ve learned to keep the ball down and mix in my pitches. That’s definitely helped me out and I think it showed this year, especially with another year of experience. Hopefully, next year, I just keep progressing.
On his favorite football team…
Latos: I don’t have a favorite pro football team. My favorite college football team is the Oregon Ducks. If I did have to root for a pro football team, I’d have to go with the Bengals.
On the positions he played as a kid…
Latos: I played right field in high school, I played third base in high school and I was a pitcher. I liked right field because in high school, I thought I could hit and I liked throwing out people at third base – making that long throw. But I think we have one of the best in the business right now in right field, so I don’t plan on changing positions anytime soon.
On needing a ‘spark’ in 2014…
Latos: I think Price will be a little more fired up than what Dusty would get.
Reds Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman called into the show to congratulate Mat and his wife Dallas for their charitable contributions to a local homeless shelter.
Brand new Cincinnati Red Skip Schumaker called in to chat briefly with Jim Kelch.
Kelch asked Schumaker if there’s going to be a wrestling match between he and Latos for the jersey number 55….
Schumaker: I’m not going to wrestle Mat! Are you kidding me, I’ll lose that match in a heartbeat. He can have it, no problem. I’m going to lose that battle every day of the week.
On what led him to sign with the Cincinnati Reds….
Schumaker: It was a pretty easy process for me. Walt Jocketty drafted me in 2001 and right away they called once free agency started. I played in that division for a lot of years; I know that division and I really loved playing in Cincinnati, I loved the ballpark and it was a no-brainer for me. I’m really excited about it; getting another chance to get into the playoffs and hopefully try to win again.
On how he sees himself fitting in with his new team…
Schumaker: Well, I don’t want to disrupt anything because they’ve got a pretty good thing going there. I’m just going to try and help the team win in whatever way I can – if it’s giving guys days off, coming off the bench, wherever it may be. I’ve been a utility player the last few years of my career and just been trying to help a team win. I feel like I’m kind of like that ‘winning player’ mold and hopefully I can continue the trend in Cincinnati.
The next Hot Stove League radio show will be broadcast live on December 3 from the Holy Grail Tavern, located at the “Banks” across the street from Great American Ball Park. Join us!