GOODYEAR, AZ. — There is a reason, many reasons, why a 26-year-old pitcher with some of the best stuff in baseball is already playing for his third team.
Mat Latos is the guy with the great stuff, but it is the stuff that comes out of his mouth that keeps people in baseball shaking their heads.
Latos was traded by the Cincinnati Reds in the off-season to the Miami Marlins and it took him just a few hours in camp to attack the Reds.
HE DIDN’T THROW people under the bus, he threw them under a train. He blamed the medical staff for rushing him back too soon from his knee injury last season, forcing him to pitch at less than 100 per cent and claiming it ruined his season.
Manager Bryan Price reacted by saying, “To me this is just a bunch of tabloid b.s. that is totally unnecessary.”
Latos either has a faulty memory or a selective memory. Back in early June he accused the Reds of holding him back, saying he was ready to pitch but they wouldn’t let him.
HE SAID THE clubhouse was a three-ring circus and, complete with a rodeo act and a tent full of cowns. He said there was a player who practiced his lariat roping on clubhouse personnel. He didn’t name Homer Bailey, but it was Homer Bailey.
“The best thing I can say is that if this was a court of law, the cross examination would probably go after the credibility of the witness,” said Bailey. “You guys with microphones and pads were around Mat and can form your own opinions,” said Bailey.
There is no doubt that Latos not only marches to the beat of a different drummer, he is his own drummer and is often off-key.
Asked if he knew Latos was taking a direct shot at him about roping in the clubhouse, Bailey said, “I don’t care. I’m not going to voice my living breath worrying about it.”
LATOS SPENT winter of 2013 rehabbing his elbow after bone chips were removed. Then on the first day of spring training in 2014 he tore the meniscus in his knee.
Asked if the Reds rushed guys back from injuries, Latos said, “I was told that I needed to start activities at a minimum of 10 days after surgery. They had me throwing on the fifth day after surgery, then they had me running the seventh day after surgery, then I was lifting (weights) 10 days after surgery.
“It should kind of be obvious when the physical therapist is looking at it and one knee looks like a water balloon and the other knee looks like a regular knee. Don’t you think they would say, ‘Hey, let’s get some of that swelling out before we do anything,’” Latos added. “But there was nothing I could do about it. I went along with it because I wanted to be out there and I figured they knew what they were talking about.”
General manager Walt Jocketty and manager Bryan Price, as would be expected, were not pleased and vehemently defended the team’s staff and the clubhouse atmosphere.
“We feel very strongly that we have one of the best medical staffs in baseball, from Dr. Tim Kremchek to our trainers to our physical therapist,” said Jocketty. “We follow very strict protocols after surgeries for rehab. We treat everyone the same and make sure they are ready to go. We don’t rush anybody. I’ve always had a philosophy that if a guy says he is ready we wait an extra day or two to make sure.”
JOCKETTY ADMITTED that the more he read of the comments, “The more I got upset because it is not true and some things were exaggerated. There is no reason to go there and we are spending a lot of time today talking about it.”
Latos really laid it on about the atmosphere in the clubhouse, saying it deteriorated after vocal leaders Scott Rolen and Bronson Arroyo left.
“After we lost Rolen and Arroyo, everything went to s—,” he said. “When Rolen was there was had guys doing exactly what they were supposed to do. After he left we had guys with two years in the big leagues on their phones and down in the video room just hanging out during games instead of being in the dugout cheering their teammates on. The dugout was like a ghost town.
“We had starters in the clubhouse roping the clubhouse guys like cattle,” he added, speaking of Bailey. “Guys were on their computers buying stuff. We had a closer in the clubhouse sleeping until the seventh inning. When you lose veteran leadership, that’s what happens. It turns into a circus.
And is the clubhouse a mini-version of Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey?
“Not at all,” said Jocketty. “I spend a great deal of time down there. We have a great group of players. We’ve had good leadership. We haven’t had the vocal leaders, but we have lot of guys who control and manage the clubhouse. I’ve told some of the key players that it is up to them. It is their clubhouse. And they have to control it and manage it. We have never had any situation that is out of control.”
Jocketty didn’t get into character assassination, and many people involved with Latos could, but he did say, “I don’t remember specifically what he said, but he made some comments (like this) when he left San Diego (when he was traded to Cincinnati). So let’S consider the source.”
Price had some definitive opinions.
“This is not going to be the distraction we anticipated and we are not going to allow it be a long-running distraction,” he said. “We have a top-shelf training and medical staff and have had them for years. Their credibility is undeniable and it is a non-issue.
“It is unfortunate that we even have to address it,” Price added. “Our staff is as invested in our players as any staff that I have been a part of. We would NOT compromise the health of our players to win a baseball game.
“This is something that should be a non-issue that has now become an issue,” said Price. “I won’t get involved in a he-said, she-said. A lot of things came out that shined a negative light on our organization and that is not fair and it is inaccurate. We have outstanding, high-quality people in our clubhouse. This is a first-class organization and it is ridiculous that we even have to discuss something of this nature that would shine a negative light on this organization. Because we’ve done nothing to deserve it.
“We honor our players by the way we care about them,” he said. “We play 162 games over 180 games and if you are waiting for 100 per cent you won’t be able to field a team. Not going to happen. Nobody would be able to field a team on a daily basis. We’d have to cut our season back to about 20 games.”