GLENDALE, Ariz. — Golden-haired, Mat Latos is allowed to make the joke.
“A dumb move by me,” he said. “A blonde moment, if you will …”
Following his first Cactus League start Tuesday, the White Sox right-hander attributed his fifth-inning meltdown to flightiness and also frustration. He went away from the game plan against the Giants: that if he was going to miss, to do so low and away.
After allowing only two runs through four innings, he gave up five in the fifth, including two homers: Brandon Belt’s towering shot over the right-field wall and Miguel Olivo’s liner over the left-field fence. He was removed after recording only two outs in the fifth.
“That was a selfish error on my part and the fifth inning was really getting away from the game plan,” he said. “And I’ve got to wear that and I gotta get back out here and make sure I don’t do that again.”
Overall, he was tagged for 11 hits and seven runs, striking out four and walking none in 4 2/3 innings.
“Let’s be honest, it was a couple cheap hits, couple broken-bat singles, balls just found holes that led to a couple earlier runs,” he said. “I kind of backed away from what we were trying to accomplish a little bit there. That’s not something I want to do.”
Latos said Tuesday his left knee, which he had drained last season, felt fine. He claimed the same about his stamina, though he admitted to feeling exited to pitch in front of a paying audience for the first time this spring. Latos had thrown only to minor leaguers while in camp.
“I didn’t expect the first pitch to be a strike,” he said, “with all the adrenaline I had when I first took the mound.”
Nonetheless, Latos, signed to a one-year, $3 million deal this offseason, seems to be the favorite for the fifth-starter spot. Manager Robin Ventura said there was time left for him to get ready for the season.
“I think it’s just getting him back out here and getting him stretched out and getting him stronger,” Ventura said. “Encouraged by the start of it, just how crisp he looked.”
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