Reds happy with Mat Latos' progress

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Cincinnati Reds right-hander Mat Latos might be ready to pitch during the first week of the season despite undergoing a pair of surgeries before the start of spring training.

"I think there's a good chance,'' Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I don't mean to dangle a carrot in front of him -- because we're not going to do anything irresponsible to get him ready simply to have him on the opening day roster. But if he stays on his protocol that he's on now, there's a good chance he could be ready to start somewhere after that off day on April 1. He could pitch on (April 6), but the priority isn't the sixth -- it's making sure he's ready to go.''

Latos was 14-7 with a 3.16 ERA and 187 strikeouts in 210 2/3 innings last season but required arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips in his right elbow in October. He was ready to throw before spring training began but tore the meniscus in his left knee during a mound session the week the team reported to camp, requiring another minor surgery.

Latos threw a bullpen session Saturday and will throw another before facing hitters in batting practice. Price said Latos would need to make at least four spring starts to build up his arm strength before being ready to pitch in the regular season.

"He looks strong. He feels strong. There are no inhibitions,'' Price said. "He's throwing the ball very hard. I don't see any reason not to be optimistic he'll be able to follow his regimen all the way to his first start.''

Latos said he hasn't set any expectations for when he returns, just that he's completely healthy when he does.

"We're not really going to win anything in April," he said. "I'm not going to rush it.''