GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Mat Latos cited manager Robin Ventura and pitching coach Don Cooper as two of the reasons that made the White Sox a good fit for the free-agent hurler.Having familiarity with catcher Dioner Navarro, who also joined the team via free agency this past offseason, didn't hurt the
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Mat Latos cited manager Robin Ventura and pitching coach Don Cooper as two of the reasons that made the White Sox a good fit for the free-agent hurler.
Having familiarity with catcher Dioner Navarro, who also joined the team via free agency this past offseason, didn't hurt the cause to bring in Latos through a one-year, $3 million deal.
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"Me and him are good buddies and we've kept in contact and everything," said Latos of Navarro, prior to Latos throwing his first bullpen session with the White Sox on Friday at Camelback Ranch. "That's one of the better relationships you can have is pitcher-catcher because I have to throw to him and he has to know what I want to throw and so on."
According to baseball-reference.com, Navarro caught seven of Latos' starts in 2012 with the Reds. Latos' ERA with Navarro catching him was 2.27, compared to his 3.48 mark for the season.
Navarro and Latos clicked immediately, but Navarro didn't make that team out of Spring Training. They worked frequently together over the season's final two months.
"I kind of became 'hashtag' his personal catcher," Navarro said. "We just had a great relationship, and that's one of the things I try to do whenever I'm on a new team. I try to get to know my guys, especially the pitchers, and go from there."
Latos dealt with right elbow surgery to remove bone chips in October '13 and then left knee surgery in Spring Training '14. It was a knee issue that lingered into last season, causing mechanics adjustments and great frustration, but offseason physical training in Miami attacked some of the points that were weak around the knee and has Latos feeling great entering camp.
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Featuring a solid sinker makes Latos a good fit for hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field. But adding the healthy right-hander into the mix with four southpaws makes him an even better fit for the White Sox.
"He's going to be good," Navarro said. "The guy has been around. He's done it for a long time, he's done a great job and hopefully everything clicks and he'll help us win a lot of games."
"We signed a one-year deal. If it winds up being longer, it winds up being longer," Latos said. "This is something I looked forward to as a best-fit scenario. I want to get on track, I want to win ballgames, go into the playoffs and go to the World Series."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.