Price, Jocketty discuss Latos

Reds manager Bryan Price and general manager Walt Jocketty responded Monday to the comments made by former pitcher Mat Latos. See below for full text:

Price:

“You know… Obviously this is a distraction that we anticipated and we’re not going to allow it to become a long-running distraction, it’s obviously something we need to talk about today and address, unfortunately. To me, it’s a bunch of tabloid BS that’s unnecessary. First things first, we have a top-shelf training and medical staff and have had them for years. Their credibility is undeniable. It’s a non-issue. It’s unfortunate that we even have to address it. We universally support our training staff, they are as invested in our players as any staff I’ve been a part of and having been a staff member here for the last five years, I’ve seen fully the interest that Mr. Castellini, Walt, Dusty, myself, our medical staff, our training staff, coaching staff have taken in making sure we’re up to date with what’s happening with our players. We would not compromise the health of our players to win a baseball game. I couldn’t be more supportive of what we do here from a medical standpoint.

Had Price talked with Mat after his trade to Miami in December?

“I talked with Mat. I texted Mat. I sent Mat a nice note of appreciation for his time here. This is going to be something that should be a non-issue that has now become an issue. I’m not going to get into a he-said, she-said environment, all I can tell you is a lot of things came out that shined a really negative light on our organization and that is unfair and inaccurate. We have outstanding leadership from ownership through the front office, through the coaching staff, training and medical staff and we have outstanding, quality, high-character people in our clubhouse. We have our own imperfections, as does every other club, but this is a first-class organization and it’s ridiculous we even have to discuss something of this nature that would shine a negative light on this organization, because we’ve done nothing to deserve it.

“We’re like any other team, and last year was a year we were hit with a lot of injuries. That being said, it had zero to do with anything that would be negligent on the backs of our medical staff, our training staff and our strength and conditioning staff. We honor our players by the way we care about them and if we’re waiting for our players to be 100 percent healthy when they take the team, no one is going to field a team, I can tell you that, no matter what sport you have. 162 games in 180 days, if you’re looking for 100 percent, no one is going to field a team on a daily basis, that’s not going to happen. If that’s our goal, we’ll cut our season back to about 20 games.”

Jocketty:

“First of all, we feel very strong that we have one of the best medical staffs in baseball from Dr. Kremchek all the way down to our trainers and physical therapists and our minor league rehabs and so forth. We follow very strict protocols after surgeries, rehabbing and so forth with the physical therapists. We treat everyone the same to make sure they are ready to go. We don’t rush anybody. If anything, I’ve always had a philosophy that if a guy says he’s ready, you wait an extra day or two just to make sure. We’ve always kind of followed that protocol.

“Then when I read the rest of the stuff and saw some of the other comments he made, I even got more upset. No. 1, it’s something that’s not true. There might have been a couple of things that were exaggerated – more than a couple. There’s just no reason to go there and we’re spending a lot of time today talking about it.”

“We have a great group of players. We’ve had good leadership. We haven’t had the vocal leaders that everybody tries to look to or point to. We’ve had a lot of guys who control things in that clubhouse and manage the clubhouse. I’ve always told some of the key players that it’s up to them because the manager, the general manager and the coaching staff can only do so much as far as managing the clubhouse. It’s their clubhouse and they have to control it. They have to manage it. It’s that way in my career in St. Louis and Cincinnati. We’ve never had any situation that was out of control. It’s always been well managed and well respected by the other players.

It’s uncommon for players to discuss stuff from the clubhouse, even after leaving?

“I think he made some comments when he left San Diego as well. You have to consider the source,” replied Jocketty.

Reds players respond to Latos

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal posted a pretty candid Q&A with former Reds pitcher Mat Latos on Sunday evening that certainly caught the attention of everyone with the Reds.

Latos, now with the Marlins, told Rosenthal that the Reds medical staff rushed him back from his Spring Training left knee surgery last year. See the next paragraph:

“It’s kind of obvious when you’re looking at it and the (physical therapist) is looking at it, and this knee looks like a water balloon and this knee looks like a regular knee, don’t you think you would say, “Hey, let’s get some of that swelling down before we do anything?” But there’s nothing I can do about it. I went along with it because I wanted to be out there. I figured they knew what they were talking about.”

Latos also described a lack of leadership and hijinx inside the clubhouse last season.

“After Scott [Rolen] left [following 2012], 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,” Latos said. “After Bronson [Arroyo last season], 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.”

Two Reds players that have had injuries in the past, Homer Bailey and Devin Mesoraco, refuted Latos’ comments, especially regarding the trainers and medical staff.

“I never have [felt rushed],” Bailey said. “I always felt like our medical staff has done an outstanding job from day one – all the way from Dr. Kremchek to all the way down. I couldn’t say enough good things about Paul, our PT staff, Steve Baumann. I don’t know what kind of experiences Mathew had. I’m sorry he feels that way. I’m sorry that he feels that way.”

“The only thing I really wanted to say is those guys in there [the training room] do an unbelievable job,” Mesoraco said. “I fought and fought and fought to say ‘hey I wanted to play Opening Day.’ And they kind of held me back. They wouldn’t let me get to the point just because they knew how much time it took to heal. For him to say that they‘re rushing people to get back into the game couldn’t be any further from the truth. They really had to hold me back just because I wanted to be in there so bad. Even the second time after I pulled my hamstring, it was kind of the same thing. I wanted to come back on day 15. I didn’t want to do rehab or do anything. We talked about it. I fought a bit over it. At the end of the day, they knew what was best for me as a player. That was something that wasn’t even in question. They did exactly what they were supposed to do.”

For background – in a June story on MLB.com, Latos was miffed that the medical staff ordered an added rehab start in the Minors rather than activate him from the disabled list. Latos had the flexor mass tendon strain near his elbow after the knee issue.

“It’s pretty bogus I’ve got to go on another rehab assignment, but it is what it is,” Latos said. “I’ll go down there and throw 100 fastballs and call it a day and come back up here and we’ll assess what’s going on.”

The only starting pitcher who does calf roping as a hobby, Bailey, had this to say about Latos’ clubhouse comments.

“I don’t care. I’m not going to waste my living breaths talking about it, I can tell you that,” Bailey said. “The best thing I can say is if this was a court of law, the cross examination would probably go after the credibility of the witness.”

Bailey also had this just before…

“Those were his comments. I don’t know any other players that would go that route,” he said. “It was the way he chose to go. I think you’ll find the majority of the people here have a sense of professionalism and are probably not going to comment on it. However, you all holding your pads and microphones have gotten to be around Mathew enough and can form your own opinion.”

More on MLB.com later …

2.22: Pictures from Sunday

The Reds are one day from the full squad report date on Monday. Most of them are here already. I was watching batting practice on the back field. Marlon Byrd, Zack Cozart, Joey Votto, Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce were among those participating.

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Votto arrives in camp

Reds first baseman Joey Votto arrived to Reds camp a little early on Saturday, ahead of Monday’s full-squad report date. Votto spoke with the media and was asked about a variety of topics — including his health after he missed 100 games last season with a distal strain of his left quadriceps, and about his approach to hitting.

Here are some of the questions and answers:

After returning from a 2012 knee injury, he played 162 games in 2013. Could that happen again this year?

“I’m definitely hopeful,” Votto said. “I come into camp every year with the hope and expectation of playing every game that is available to me. My goal is to play as often as possible and help the team in any way, shape or form that I can.”

Is he 100 percent without limitation?

Votto: “I haven’t gone through the evaluation process with the strength staff and the [physical therapy] staff and the doctor and obviously, the baseball people. If I get a couple of days under my belt and get the evals done, I think we’ll have a better idea of where we’re at. As far as how I feel now, I feel good.”

Can Votto do everything during his workouts?

Votto: “I’m swinging, I’m throwing, I’m taking ground balls, I’m running. I feel like it’s a big contrast from the end of the season and during the season last year.”

Was it a tougher offseason knowing all the games that were lost to the injury last season?

Votto: “I feel content with what I’ve learned. I’m not looking back with any sort of regret. I feel like I’ve learned a great deal. I feel like everything I have gone through has led to me learning more about myself and learning about ways to prepare and improve the process. Hopefully that process will help me perform better on the field, and stay healthier and be more consistent and most importantly, help the team win.”

Was he aware of the debate about his hitting approach that continued this offseason in Cincinnati?

Votto: “I think that’s to be expected because I am the guy who has the big contract. There are times where it can be a bit of a nuisance because I have to answer a question. Most of it is noise. I think that I’ve proven, when healthy, that I’m a helpful part of the team. I do my part.

“I have to be careful with what I say. In terms of being in the middle of it, sometimes I think it’s really, really silly. I’m not going to use the word ‘ignorant,’ but ignorant. I also think there’s some validity to it because it’s coming from a perspective that is being nostalgic. … Ultimately, it’s entertainment. I’m part of the entertainment industry. If there weren’t debates like this then, what the hell are we doing? I think this is great.

“I’m the big money guy. I’m the guy that is supposed to do certain things and has done certain things in the past and it’s expected in the future. I’m not doing it so let’s talk about it, let’s get after it and I think that it’s great. I’m glad I can be a lightning rod, as long as I’m a lightning rod while performing one way or the other. Whether it’s the 2010 version or the 2013 version, you cannot deny that I haven’t performed and been able to provide value for the team and able to help the team get to the playoffs. Both examples, I was part of a playoff team. I’m not saying the main part or anything like that, but I was a part of it. As long as I’m part of it, it’s the most important thing. I think it’s fun. No one is getting hurt. I should expect it.”

Pictures from Friday

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Notable quotes from Thursday

The first day of workouts is complete here on Thursday afternoon. At the moment of typing this, it’s exactly 72 degrees warmer in Goodyear than it is in Cincinnati (sorry).

Be sure to check out today’s story on Johnny Cueto by clicking here. Cueto says he isn’t worried about his contract talks and doesn’t expect it to be a distraction here at camp.

Other stories:

*Devin Mesoraco to get increased workload and catch Cueto more. (Click here)

*Bryan Price isn’t worried about his job security (click here)

Quotes from today:

“I do anticipate him taking on a higher workload this season. He missed some time last year with the injury to begin the year and then the hamstring, which took some games away from him. I also had Johnny linked with Brayan Pena and I’m not going to do that to start the season. Johnny threw well to both of them last year. It will be a little more random with how I use Brayan.” — Price on Mesoraco.

“Preferably, I’d like to catch 161 and take one day off after we clinch. I’m sure there are going to be some times where it makes sense to get Brayan in there and give me a couple of days to just regroup. As much as they want to write my name in the lineup is as much as I want to be back there.” — Mesoraco

“Honestly, it would be good to have something done before [the deadline] because that would take things out of my mind. All I have to do is continue to play baseball.” — Cueto

“He’s a very talented young man, very polished from what we’ve seen. It’s a small sample size, it’s never more than two innings. It’s been very good. Our feeling is he has the stuff and the command to start, but he hasn’t taken on a starter’s workload in some time. We’ll integrate him at some time, that’s where we feel he’s best suited until we feel otherwise. We’ll integrate him there, that’s where we feel he’s best suited until he proves otherwise, we’re going to get him ready as a starter.” — Price on Raisel Iglesias

Workout pics

Much of the daily developments from Reds camp and tidbits will be migrating to the main site at Reds.com from here on out. I will continue to blog things here when I can and give additional things or immediate breaking news.

For now, here are some pictures from the first day of workouts on Thursday:

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The pitcher throwing in the bullpen is Raisel Iglesias.

MLB Network televising 3 games

MLB Network announced Wednesday that it will be televising three Reds spring games. That brings the total of Reds games on TV this spring to seven with the four Reds-Indians games being carried by Fox Sports Ohio.

Here is the MLB Network slate:

Friday, March 20 – Reds at San Francisco Giants – 9:00 p.m. ET
Monday, March 23 – Reds at Texas Rangers – 9:00 p.m. ET
Saturday, April 4 – Reds at Toronto Blue Jays – 1:00 p.m. ET

MLB Network’s annual “30 clubs in 30 days” shows will be back as well. The Reds will be featured on Saturday, March 14 at 10 p.m. ET.

Camp open, Bailey update

Good morning from Goodyear…

Spring Training is here as Reds pitchers and catchers report to camp Wednesday. It’s not a formal workout day (that’s Thursday), but several players are here. I’ve seen Homer Bailey, Sam LeCure, Sean Marshall, Paul Maholm, Raisel Iglesias and Dylan Axelrod, among the players in the clubhouse.

Bailey, who is coming off of surgery to repair a torn flexor mass, said things are going well but that he is still a little behind from his usual schedule.

“I haven’t gotten off the mound,” Bailey said. “Usually, l like to get off the mound a few times before I come. But I can catch back up real quick. It’s more getting used to the throwing everyday stuff.”

Bailey noted that he has not had any setbacks to this point.

More to come on Reds.com/MLB.com throughout the day.

Reds stuff is in Goodyear

The Reds’ equipment made the 1,800-plus mile trek from Cincinnati and arrived in Goodyear on Saturday. The clubhouse staff unloaded it all ahead of pitchers and catchers reporting on Wednesday.

I will be flying out to Arizona on Tuesday and the stories/posts on Reds.com/MLB.com will be plentiful. Be sure to check there every day for fresh content. I will also try to have some blog extras and breaking news on here as well.

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