GLENDALE, Ariz. – Mat Latos continues to pitch on the back fields, a la Chris Sale, as he prepares to fill a role in the White Sox pitching rotation.
For the 28-year-old right-hander trying to regain the form that produced four straight seasons with 31 or more starts and an ERA not above 3.48, working closely with pitching coach Don Cooper is the best way.
“It’s spring training. We’re not here to win the Cactus League,” Latos said. “It’s all about making pitches and preparing for the season and taking momentum into the season. To me, I get into a game and I’m not 100 percent ready — my mechanics are thrown off — it’s more harmful than it is good because once you speed the game, (side sessions and games) are two different things.’’
Cooper had Latos slotted for a Saturday start against the Cubs but changed his mind and will give the ball to Erik Johnson instead. Latos, who is bouncing back from knee problems, said he feels good. Cooper said Latos “looks fine.”
“He’s up to four innings and 60 [pitches]’’ on side sessions, Cooper said. “He’s where he needs to be.’’
More teams are using pitchers less in games and more on the back fields. Sale won’t start for another 10 days.
“We’re trying to make some minor adjustments in mechanics from how I was pitching last year to what I used to be when I was with Cincinnati,’’ Latos said. “[Cooper] has a game plan and we’re sticking to it and so far it’s working. It has helped out a lot to where I’m getting really comfortable with my mechanics.’’
Catching Coop’s attention
Cooper talked up somewhat-under-the-radar right-hander Jacob Turner, who starts against the A’s today after pitching two scoreless innings in his first outing, and farther under right-hander Michael Ynoa, a 6-7 right-hander who came along with Jeff Samardzija in last year’s trade with the Oakland A’s.
“[Ynoa] has a big league arm,’’ Cooper said. “He’s very, very interesting.’’
Danks a bit better
Fifth starter John Danks (two runs, 3 1/3 innings) was better in his second start, striking out the first three Brewers and finishing with four Ks but walking two and giving up three hits.
Definitely today was a step in the right direction,’’ Danks said.
It’s crowded out there
Austin Jackson’s arrival means fewer at-bats for someone in the outfield – or at designated hitter – and it could also motivate right fielder Avisail Garcia, who homered and tripled Tuesday.
“I’m OK wherever they put me,’’ Garcia said. “This is my job and I love what I do and I can’t control anything. I just prepare myself to get ready and make the adjustments that I need. If everybody’s good, I’m good. We’ve just got to win and we’ll be like a family. Anything for the team, though, so I’m ok with it.’’