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Latos satisfied with pitches despite linescore

Right-hander was making first Grapefruit League start
Special to MLB.com

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Right-hander Mat Latos had a rough time in his first Grapefruit League start for the Blue Jays. Latos went two innings against the Orioles on Wednesday, giving up five runs on three hits and three walks in the Blue Jays' 6-4 loss. He threw 39 pitches, just 17 for strikes.

The big blow was a Craig Gentry three-run homer with two outs in the second inning.

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Right-hander Mat Latos had a rough time in his first Grapefruit League start for the Blue Jays. Latos went two innings against the Orioles on Wednesday, giving up five runs on three hits and three walks in the Blue Jays' 6-4 loss. He threw 39 pitches, just 17 for strikes.

The big blow was a Craig Gentry three-run homer with two outs in the second inning.

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"I felt like I made a lot of good pitches, my catcher [Juan Graterol] did, too," Latos said. "Kind of just looking at it and thinking you're making pitches and then you feel like, OK, you got to shrink your zone a little bit, and then you wind up leaving it down the middle and giving up a three-run home run."

In the first, Latos got leadoff hitter Seth Smith to ground out to Ryan Goins at second base before Gentry singled and Chris Davis walked. Gentry scored on Mark Trumbo's single to center and Davis scored on Hyun Soo Kim's sacrifice fly to left before Chris Johnson flied out to center to end the inning,

Ryan Flaherty led the second inning with a fly out to left before Caleb Joseph walked and Paul Janish popped out on a foul to Graterol. But Latos gave up a walk to Smith, setting up Gentry's blast.

"We tried to work down and away, and we tried to work up and in," Latos said. "We weren't getting down and away, we weren't getting up and in. I threw a couple really good pitches to Chris Davis that I felt could have gone either way.

"We just tried to pound the zone down and away, tried to go up and in, and weren't getting either one. So it was kind of, 'Where do I go from here?' kind of thing."

Latos, who turned 29 in December, joined the Blue Jays on a Minor League contract in February. He had made two relief appearances this spring before making this start. In four combined innings before facing the Orioles, he had allowed just one run on three hits and a walk with four strikeouts.

He is a veteran of eight Major League seasons with the Padres, Reds, Marlins, Dodgers, Angels, White Sox and Nationals. Latos split last season with Chicago and Washington, going a combined 7-3 with a 4.89 ERA in 17 appearances (12 starts).

Despite his linescore, Latos was satisfied with his stuff.

"I feel great," he said. "The ball's coming out of my hand, everything, fastball. I'm not reeling back and letting it go, letting it go right now. I'm trying to really concentrate on keeping my mechanics steady with everything and just really work downhill.

"So I feel really good as far as my body, my arm, everything goes. The ball's coming out, and it's 90, 92 and it's not max effort. The slider's coming out of my hand really good. I've got good motion, good action on it and everything else. Curveball's got a good spin."

Manager John Gibbons was satisfied with Latos's pitches.

"Solid," Gibbons said. "I think he did get frustrated with the ump though and started scattering a little bit more. His style of throwing, he's going to get a wide variance. The big breaking curveball, he throws a lot of balls up in the zone, he's going to spike some of them. Not necessarily an easy guy to call back there but I thought he really squeezed him."

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com

Toronto Blue Jays, Mat Latos