SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Mat Latos was pretty blunt on Sunday in describing his spring performance to date.
Making his second Cactus League start, Latos allowed six runs (five earned) and seven hits in four innings before the White Sox rallied for a 13-9 win over the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium. Latos may have been hindered by a poorly manicured pitcher’s mound as both he and Giants starter Jake Peavy commented on its condition. But there’s also a sense of urgency at play as Latos has 10 days left before his first regular season start to establish a rhythm on the mound.
“The results are horrible, if we’re being honest,” Latos said. “I’ve got to start stringing together pitches, there’s no doubt about it. I have to. The first game I might have gotten a little tired. Everything else feels good. The knee feels good. The arm feels good.”
Results aside, Latos’ confidence is pretty strong, too.
He has one exhibition start (Friday in San Diego) and two side sessions to go before he’s set to make his regular season debut April 7 in Oakland. Even though time is of the essence, Latos believes he can get on track.
He had four solid innings in his first start Tuesday before he got hit hard in his final frame. And he said his left knee, the one that bothered him in the past, isn’t an issue.
But Latos couldn’t establish any kind of flow on Sunday. Four of the first five batters reached in a two-run first on Sunday. An inning later, Latos slipped on the mound and hit Hunter Pence, which led to consecutive run-scoring hits by Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt.
Latos escaped that rally with a strikeout, but never strung together an easy inning. He walked a batter and allowed a single in the third before stranding the pair. He walked another in the fourth and would have escaped the inning if not for a two-base error by Jimmy Rollins. Miscommunication between him and Rollins on the next play led to a balk and a sixth run scored.
Still, Latos — who threw strikes on 55 of 96 pitches — is hopeful he’s about to turn it around.
“I’m not concerned about being ready,” Latos said. “All it’s going to take is one day in the ‘pen. It will take one game to get everything that we’ve gone through to click.
“We worked on something else (in the bullpen) and we changed my positioning on the mound. So I was throwing from a different area. And they say baseball is game of inches, well yeah, I might have moved over about four or five inches on the rubber and it does make a difference. “It’s something you have to get used to. It just takes one.
“Everybody will tell you that. It could take one at-bat for a hitter who is struggling for it to click. It could take one pitch for a pitcher for it to click. I guess we’ve got a whole group of information that we’ve put together for me when I’m on the mound. I tried it in the game today. It felt really good.”
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Todd Frazier has begun to find his power. The third baseman tripled and homered — his second of the spring — in four at-bats. Frazier drove in three runs and scored three. Travis Ishikawa finished a single short of the cycle and had five RBIs. Avisail Garcia homered, his fourth of the spring.
Brett Lawrie walked three times and also singled.
Scott Carroll allowed two earned runs in four innings pitched in relief.