Miami Marlins right-hander Mat Latos said the Cincinnati Reds rushed him back to the field after knee surgery last year.
Talking with Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the new Marlins starter referenced similar injury situations with Reds first baseman Joey Votto and right fielder Jay Bruce before saying, "There seems to be a trend going on there."
Latos made only 16 starts in 2014, going 5-5 with a 3.25 ERA over 102 1/3 innings. Surgery on the meniscus in his left knee kept him out until June 14, and then his season ended on Sept. 7 after he sustained a bone bruise on his pitching elbow.
The Reds traded Latos to the Marlins during the Winter Meetings. He sought a $10.4 million salary in arbitration, but lost his case and will be paid $9.4 million.
"If there is one thing I could change, I would have not come back so soon," Latos said when asked how frustrating last season was to him. "I tried to get out there as quickly as possible to help out the team. It was basically the same thing that [Reds first baseman] Joey [Votto] went through with his knee, the same exact thing. I rushed myself and tried to get back as soon as possible, tried to compete with the team. I wound up costing myself.
"Pitching at 80-90 percent wasn’t the greatest idea on my end. I kind of screwed myself over with it. I kept having setbacks with the knee. I guess it is what it is. You can’t change it now."
Latos also was critical of a perceived lack of leadership within the Reds' clubhouse following the departures of veterans Scott Rolen after the 2012 season and Bronson Arroyo after 2013. He referenced the Reds' closer sleeping until the seventh inning during a game, but did not mention by name Aroldis Chapman or any other players.
"When Scott was there, we had guys doing exactly what they were supposed to do. After Scott left, we had guys with two years in the big leagues, in the clubhouse, on their phones, laying down in the video room, just hanging out during games, not in the dugout, not cheering their teammates on. Our dugout looked like a ghost town.
"After Bronson, the same exact thing. We had starters in there roping our [clubhouse attendants], like, cattle-roping our clubbies. Guys on their computers, buying stuff, hanging out in the clubhouse. We had a guy with a year-and-a-half in the big leagues wandering around the clubhouse, hanging out. We had a closer in there sleeping until the seventh inning. We lose that veteran leadership, that’s what happens. You can’t have that ... it turns into a circus."
The Reds went 76-86 in 2014, missing the playoffs for the first time in three seasons after two straight 90-win campaigns.
- Mike Fiammetta