Navarro keeps on clicking with Latos
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Manager Robin Ventura doesn’t want to get locked into having certain starting pitchers throwing to a personal catcher, but he acknowledged the Mat Latos and Dioner Navarro combination might be hard to break up.
In seven starts when Navarro caught Latos in 2012 when they were teammates with the Cincinnati Reds, Latos pitched to a 2.07 ERA, held opponents to a .196 batting average and had a 3.23 strikeouts to walks ratio, all better than his overall numbers that year.
“Since day one we kind of clicked,’’ Navarro said. “At first I wasn’t even catching him and we became good friends.
“He likes to talk a lot and I’m a really mellow guy so I let him do all the talking. Just listen to what he has to say.’’
When they found out they would be teammates again – both signed one-year contracts during the offseason – “we were both pretty pumped up about it.’’
Latos’ start – he’s 3-0 with a 0.49 ERA and only six hits allowed and with Navarro catching each one – has pumped up the Sox rotation, and he’s done it without the velocity that made him a top of the rotation caliber starter in Cincinnati and San Diego.
“He’s throwing strikes,’’ Navarro said. “That’s the number one thing. He still has what it takes. I’m still pretty sure there’s room to develop, whether’s it velocity or something else. Everything is fine but he has to keep working on recuperating that velocity because when I caught this cat with the Reds he was one of the nastiest guys I’ve seen in my life. He was throwing 95, 97, slider was 91-92. Hopefully he gets back to that point. Or if he doesn’t, keep doing what he’s doing and we’re fine, too.’’
The Sox knew they had a strong top three in the rotation with left-handers Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Carlos Rodon. John Danks, pitching against the Angels Thursday after two rough outings to start the season, is a know-what-you-get fifth starter. Latos was a wild card, and if he performs like the Latos of old — he came to the Sox with a career 3.51 ERA — Sox rotation should match up with the best.
Latos has talked up matching up with Navarro since spring training and continued to after pitching 6 1/3 scoreless innings against the Angels Tuesday.
“I’m the one throwing the pitches, but he does call a really good game,’’ Latos said. “I shook him off again and got yelled at. One of these days I’ll learn my lesson.’’
Navarro said Latos can be “complicated,’’ and a lot of doubts followed him as he struggled through spring training.
“Although he looks like he doesn’t know what the heck he’s doing, he knows what he’s doing,’’ Navarro said. “He had a plan in spring training and he executed it. It was bugging him but he knew what he need to do to get to this level.’’