Latos bounces back vs. Astros

Other than allowing homer, Marlins right-hander resembles his old self

Latos bounces back vs. Astros

JUPITER, Fla. -- After what took place five days ago, Saturday was a reassuring bounce-back start for Mat Latos. The Marlins right-hander was back in his comfort zone, at ease with his delivery and the results followed.

Latos gave up one run on six hits with three strikeouts and two walks in 5 1/3 innings in a 1-1 tie with the Astros at Roger Dean Stadium.

"He looked good," manager Mike Redmond said. "He got his pitches in. I thought he threw some really nice breaking balls, and located his fastball pretty well."

The big blemish on the day was a changeup that Hank Conger crushed to right-center for a game-tying home run in the fifth inning. Other than that, the game resembled what could be ahead when the season gets underway on April 6.

"It was a changeup," Latos said of Conger's second home run of the spring. "Whether or not he was sitting on it, I don't know. He just hit it hard, that's what he's supposed to do."

At this point of spring, getting the pitch count to close to 100 is the objective. Latos is on track there, as his afternoon ended at 80 pitches.

"He really just had the home run," Redmond said. "Other than that, he gave us a chance to win. I thought he got his work in and looked good."

Latos looked more like himself after he was out of sorts in his Monday start against the Mets, when he was tagged for nine runs on eight hits in three innings.

"I think you see night and day," Latos said. "I couldn't get an out the other day. My last outing, my mechanics were completely off. Today, everything was downhill -- fastball, slider, changeup, split, curveball. I was able to get outs. I was able to make good pitches when I needed to the most. For the most part, [I] established strike one."

Latos has one more start before the season gets going. But the Marlins have not announced when it will be. He would be most likely lined up for Friday in the exhibition against Class A Greensboro.

Latos has made four Grapefruit League starts, and logged 15 1/3 innings. Early in camp he was eased along because he had a minor right-elbow scope in mid-October.

Getting regular-season ready has been a process, and he's happy with how the ball was coming out of his hand on Saturday.

"It was a lot better, sharpened the mechanics up," he said. "Figured out what we did wrong in the last start. Took it into the bullpen. Took it into the game here. All in all, can't complain."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.