GLENDALE, Ariz. — The quality of Mat Latos’ work in camp has been fine. But the White Sox right-hander has some big objectives left to accomplish before the season starts.
Latos — scheduled to start next Thursday in Oakland — participated in a bullpen session on Wednesday morning. He’s also set for one last exhibition start on Friday in San Diego.
“His pitch total is certainly up, but he needs to be able to give us more innings,” pitching coach Don Cooper said. “He’s had difficulty with efficiency and difficulty going past four. That’s not the job description. So he needs to climb.”
Latos might not get the chance to do much ascending at Petco Park — “a lot of other guys need to pitch in that game,” Cooper said. Similar to Chris Sale on Tuesday, Latos may have to head to the bullpen for extra work on Friday. Sale threw 15 pitches in the bullpen after completing 5 1/3 innings on Tuesday.
Latos has only completed 8 2/3 innings in two starts this spring and has a 12.46 ERA. He threw 96 pitches in Sunday’s start, so pitch count isn’t an issue. Cooper has seen Latos make some progress in his work throughout the spring. He said he’s seen better fastball location, an improved slider and a changeup he has thrown for strikes. He also said Latos’ split-fingered fastball has become more of a put-away pitch.
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But now he needs a consistent performance to build momentum.
“There’s more to put together,” Cooper said. “We’ve got to continue his climb with the efficiency of his pitches. There are some innings where he’s falling behind in the count. If you’ve just seen his game so far, efficiency and being efficient enough to get through more innings has not quite been there.
“We’ve got faith in him that it’s going to happen.”