GOODYEAR, Ariz. — It was hot and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, except for one little black cloud dangling over the spring training home of the Cincinnati Reds on Friday for the team’s first official workout of 2014.
Pitcher Mat Latos, who underwent surgery after last season to remove bone chips from his elbow, suffered a slight tear in his left knee Tuesday, a meniscus tear, and underwent arthroscopic surgery Friday from team medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek.
The Reds put the biggest possible positive spin on it that they could after Latos felt a twinge in the knee on Tuesday during a long toss session.
The prognosis is that Latos will be able to begin working out and throwing in about 10 days, according to Dr. Kremchek and general manager Walt Jocketty.
While Opening Day is more than six weeks away, the natural question is how this could affect Latos by that time.
"We’ll just see how he progresses," said Jocketty. "Right now I can’t say whether it would affect him (for Opening Day) or not. We don’t think so. We’ll see."
Reds broadcaster Chris Welsh, a former major-league pitcher, was standing near Jocketty when he talked and Jocketty asked him, "You ever have that procedure done?"
Said Welsh, "Yeah, and I think I pitched on the 22nd day after the procedure. But not well, I might add."
Jocketty said the tear was very small and that recovery time should be quick and added, "Dr. Kremchek said everything went well, it was an easy repair, a quick repair, very minor surgery."
Latos, pitching with bone chips in his elbow most of last season when he went 14-7 with a 3.16 ERA in 32 starts, came to camp early hoping to begin a throwing program to get him on track.
"They say he’ll be on crutches for a little bit and, yes, this was very unfortunate," Jocketty added. "But it is something we certainly aren’t overly concerned about."
Late in the afternoon, after the first day’s workout following physical examinations, new manager Bryan Price was asked about Latos.
"What’s with Latos?" he said with a straight face. When perplexed looks gathered on the writers’ faces, Price broke into a grin and said, "Gotcha." Ah, a manager with a sense of humor.
"That’s disappointing, but in the big picture he could have been a lot worse, so we’ll get through it," said Price. "We have guys capable of stepping in if other guys aren’t ready for situations like this. But it just looks like a seven- to 10-day situation and by no means do we think he won’t be ready."
On his first day as manager on the field, Price said, "It was obviously exciting for me from a selfish standpoint. It was my first day with the pitchers and catchers and that makes it an unbelievably exciting time for me."
Price, though, knows he needs some leadership adjustments after his first day as The Man.
"The difficult part is my instincts of wanting to work my way around and make sure everything is flowing correctly," he said. "I have to tell myself, ‘I already have people doing that.’ I have (coaches) Jeff Pico and Mack Jenkins and Mike Stefanski has done a great job making sure everything is ready to go in the morning. And Jay Bell (bench coach) is on top of everything. We have a tremendous staff and there is nothing for me to worry about.
"But the instinctive part of me is that I want to go up and talk to a pitcher in the middle of his bullpen session. I have to pull back and say, ‘Hey, it is already in good hands.’ I have to break the instincts of being a pitching coach, but it will get there."
• First baseman Neftali Soto doesn’t need to read the handwriting on the dugout wall to realize his future with the Reds isn’t at first base, not with Joey Votto hanging around the bag. So he has asked to come to camp and work out as a catcher.
"He’s caught in the past," said Jocketty. "He wanted to come to camp and work on that so it would further his chances of helping out, so he can play first base, third base and catcher — maybe as an emergency catcher type of thing."
• Jocketty said the team and pitcher Homer Bailey’s representatives are still talking with the Reds hoping to coax Bailey into a multi-year deal or come to terms on a one-year deal before his arbitration hearing. "We have a week to get something resolved (before an arbitration hearing) one way or the other. He and I are still talking so that’s a good sign."
Bailey is asking for $11.6 million for this season and the Reds are offering $8.7 million. If the two parties don’t come to a compromise figure and the case goes to arbitration there will be no compromise — Bailey gets either $11.6 million or $8.7 million, depending upon the arbitrators’ decision.