Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Mat Latos felt the pressure to perform early this season after his current ballclub traded away four players to acquire his services this offseason.
In his first start for the Reds, Latos gave up four runs, seven hits and walked two in what turned out to be an 8-3 loss to the Miami Marlins April 7. The Reds went on to lose his next two starts, 3-2 at Washington and 11-1 at St. Louis.
“If there isn’t enough pressure as is (in Major League Baseball), you were also traded for four different guys,” said Latos at a signing event in West Chester Thursday. “It was difficult to put into words, how much pressure there was going into the season. The main thing is to just get on task and perform.”
After those first three loses, Latos and the Reds have won the three games he has started since. The latest win, a 5-0 victory at Pittsburgh, Latos struck out 11 batters and gave up only two hits in 6 and 1/3rd innings despite being sick.
Besides the pregame vomiting, Latos said he finally felt like himself on the mound.The pressure for Latos continued to dissipate Thursday when he meet some of his newest fans during an autograph session at the Sports Gallery in West Chester.
“A lot of people showed their appreciation. It took a little bit of weight off my shoulders from the trade and everything,” Latos said. “It was really fun to get out and sign a bunch of autographs for people that support me.”
Latos will start this Saturday when the Reds host the Washington Nationals at Great American Ball Park at 7:10 p.m.
Earlier on Saturday, fellow starting pitcher Johnny Cueto will host a signing session at the Sports Gallery, 7967 Cincinnati-Dayton Road, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. At the event, Cueto will sign any item for $35.
In addition to Latos and Cueto, Sports Gallery co-owner Mark Fugate recently announced that the store would also host rookie catcher Devin Mesoraco and slugging outfielder Jay Bruce for additional signing sessions this summer.
Mesoraco is currently scheduled to host a signing from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, June 6. Bruce will host his signing session from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 14.
The Sports Gallery will have baseballs, bats, photos, cards, helmets and other Reds collectibles available for purchase during the signings.
For information about mail order items or to buy tickets, which are limited, call 513-759-4256.