CINCINNATI -- A man used to living on West Coast time, Mat Latos was still rubbing the sleep out of his eyes early Thursday while trying to get to know his new working environment. The new Reds starting pitcher flew across the country just to be at the team's caravan kickoff at Great American Ball Park. Keep in mind that Latos didn't go on of one the buses motoring across the region, but he wanted to be around to meet some players, CEO Bob Castellini, general manager Walt Jocketty and members of the front office. It was Jocketty who extended the invitation. Latos spent several minutes talking privately with Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips and also introduced himself to rookie catcher Devin Mesoraco. Later, he had a private chat with Castellini in his office.
"Everybody has been extremely excited to have me here and extremely nice. I'm excited to be here," Latos said. In mid-December, the Reds traded first baseman Yonder Alonso, catching prospect Yasmani Grandal, reliever Brad Boxberger and former rotation ace Edinson Volquez to the Padres to get Latos. He is expected to slot behind ace Johnny Cueto and be Cincinnati's No. 2 starter. Latos, and his wife, Dallas, arrived to town late Wednesday night from San Diego and only got a couple of hours of sleep. They planned to be in Cincinnati for less than 24 hours before flying back to California. "I don't want to walk into Spring Training and feel like the odd man out, with weird looks when everybody first gets there," Latos said. "I just wanted to get in and know what to expect." Latos, who has been to Great American Ball Park as a visiting player with the Padres, knows he would be pitching in a vastly different stadium than his old home park, San Diego's spacious Petco Park. He doesn't plan to adjust his style to pitch in Cincinnati, which has been a home run haven for hitters. "My first couple of years in the big leagues, it was me pitching to my strengths and pitching to hitters' weaknesses. That's not going to change," Latos said. "I'm excited about the ballpark. It being a hitters' ballpark, and Petco being a pitchers' ballpark, they said it's going to be a big change. It's a challenge. I'll take this challenge head on. I look forward to pitching in this ballpark."