Reds refute Latos' comments about club's medical staff

Reds refute Latos' comments about club's medical staff

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Reds emphatically responded Monday to published comments from former starting pitcher Mat Latos, who criticized the team's medical staff and clubhouse culture.

In a story published Sunday, Latos -- now with the Marlins -- told FOX Sports that the Reds rushed him back from his arthroscopic left knee surgery last year. Latos was injured the day before Spring Training 2014 opened, and he later suffered a setback while rehabbing, as he strained the flexor mass tendon near his right elbow.

Members of the Reds defended the medical staff, including Dr. Tim Kremchek and head trainer Paul Lessard.

"We have a top-shelf training and medical staff, and have had them for years," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "Their credibility is undeniable. It's a non-issue. It's unfortunate that we even have to address it. 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."

"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," Latos said in the story. "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."

Reds starting pitcher Homer Bailey, currently rehabbing from surgery to repair a torn flexor mass tendon near his right forearm, also has had injuries in the past.

"I never have [been rushed]," Bailey said. "I always felt like our medical staff has done an outstanding job from Day 1 -- all the way from Dr. Kremchek to all the way down. I couldn't say enough good things about Paul, our PT staff, [assistant trainer] Steve Baumann. I don't know what kind of experiences Mathew had. I'm sorry he feels that way."

Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco spent time on the disabled list last season, including at the season's start because of a strained left oblique muscle.

"I fought and fought and fought to say, 'Hey, I wanted to play Opening Day.' And they kind of held me back," Mesoraco said. "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."

"We follow very strict protocols after surgeries, rehabbing and so forth with the physical therapists," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "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."

In June, when Latos had his rehab assignment extended instead of being activated, he actually had expressed his displeasure.

"It's pretty bogus I've got to go on another rehab assignment, but it is what it is," Latos said on June 7. "I'll go down there and throw 100 fastballs and call it a day, and [I'll] come back up here and we'll assess what's going on."

As for the Reds' clubhouse, Latos used the term "circus," with the FOX Sports report saying the club's veteran leadership was missing without players like Scott Rolen and Bronson Arroyo. Latos described teammates lying down in the video room on phones during games, players "buying stuff" on computers instead of being on the bench and "a closer in there sleeping until the seventh inning," referring to Aroldis Chapman.

Latos was traded to the Marlins on Dec. 11 for pitcher Anthony DeSclafani and Minor League catcher Chad Wallach. Miami is his third club since his big league debut in 2009. Cincinnati acquired Latos in a four-for-one trade with the Padres before the 2012 season. He was often a polarizing figure for comments made to reporters and behind the scenes.

"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 said.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.