Marlins delay debut for righty Mat Latos

Mat Latos was acquired via trade from the Cincinnati Reds.

Steve Mitchell/Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

JUPITER, Fla. — The Miami Marlins scratched right-hander Mat Latos from his Grapefruit League debut.

Latos, originally scheduled to start on Monday against the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie, will instead throw off a back field in a simulated game to minor leaguers.

Manager Mike Redmond said the Marlins are being cautious with Latos, who was limited to 16 games in 2014 because of injuries to his knee and elbow. He went 5-5 with a 3.25 ERA. In his previous four full big-league seasons, Latos started at least 31 games.

"We’re just easing him into it," Redmond said. "We want to make sure we can control how many hitters and how many pitches he throws. It’s just easier to do that on the back fields."

Redmond said there is no arm issue and that the 27-year-old righty has not missed a bullpen session. Acquired over the offseason in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds, Latos will be a free agent at the end of 2015.

"He’s been a little bit banged up, but we want to make sure to ease it in with him," Redmond said. "We’re going to control it back here that way we can monitor. He’s fine, we just want to make sure he eases into it and make sure he’s healthy for the season."

Depending on how Latos responds to the simulation game will determine what comes next. The other four projected starters in the rotation have made a spring-training appearance (Jarred Cosart pitches on Sunday). 

"I think we’re hoping that everything feels good and then the next step will be a regular game," Redmond said.

Righty David Phelps, who will likely begin the season in the bullpen rather than in the rotation, will start in Latos’ place. He pitched two scoreless, no-hit innings on Thursday against the St. Louis Cardinals.

You can follow Christina De Nicola on Twitter @CDeNicola13 or email her at cdenicola13@gmail.com.