Padres enjoying Latos while they can

Padres enjoying Latos while they can

SAN DIEGO -- Mat Latos, the Padres' hard-throwing, 21-year-old starting pitcher, is just getting warmed up in his first run in the Major Leagues.

But a month from now, Latos figures to be shutting things down, before the finish of the regular season.

Latos, who makes his fourth Major League start on Monday against the Braves at PETCO Park, has already thrown a combined 89 innings this season between the Minor Leagues and the Major Leagues.

San Diego general manager Kevin Towers said Sunday that the Padres "more than likely will shut him down in September."

The Padres are being careful with the workload and number of innings Latos throws this season. Towers has said he doesn't want to more than double the number of innings Latos threw last season (56). That would leave him with 23 innings left this season, which could cover four starts or so.

The Padres, of course, could push that number higher, possibly to 120 innings, though that decision doesn't have to be made now.

For now, the Padres are enjoying what Latos has done. He's 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA in 16 2/3 innings and opponents are hitting .164 against him.

In his last start, Latos allowed one hit (a solo home run) and one walk in seven innings in a victory over the Reds.

"Everything clicked today," Latos said after that start "It's always a good day when the offense puts up five runs. I go out there, no pressure, and made my pitches."

San Diego manager Bud Black said Latos didn't take advantage or let up because his team staked him to an early 5-0 lead.

"A lot of times that can change the mindset of a pitcher, that can disrupt him a little bit for a number of reasons," Black said of the early runs. "But he kept his focus and pitched his game and pitched aggressive on both sides of the plate with his fastball. He pitched a great game, an outstanding game."

Latos' only mistake came in the fourth, when he gave up a solo homer to Jerry Hairston Jr. Latos said he "babied" the changeup to Hairston, which prompted catcher Everth Alfonzo to remind him not to do that with his pitches.

"I didn't throw it up like I did a fastball," Latos said. "It was down and he got it."

Pitching matchup
SD: RHP Mat Latos (2-1, 2.70 ERA)
Latos had his most impressive start yet when he shut the Reds down for seven innings. Latos cruised through the Reds lineup, setting them down in order inning after inning. He only walked one batter and had four strikeouts in the Padres' 7-1 victory. Latos will look to continue his winning streak against the Braves.

ATL: RHP Kenshin Kawakami (5-8, 4.37 ERA)
While surrendering three homers during Wednesday night's loss to the Marlins, Kawakami provided more reason to wonder if he'll prove durable during the final stages of his first Major League season. Pitching in a five-man rotation for the first time, the 34-year-old Japanese hurler has been bothered by shoulder fatigue throughout the season. But before lasting just 4 2/3 innings on Wednesday, he'd gone 4-4 with a 3.20 ERA in his previous 14 starts.

Tidbits
It appears that catcher Nick Hundley, on the disabled list since June 18 with a broken bone near his left wrist, took batting practice on Saturday and will do so again on Monday while also participating in various "baseball-related" drills, according to Black. There's a chance, Black said, that Hundley could be ready for a Minor League rehab assignment sometime during the week, likely with Triple-A Portland. ... The Padres' 4-2 victory over the Brewers on Saturday allowed them to even their record at home this season at 26-26. The Padres have posted a winning record at their downtown stadium every year since it opened with the exception of 2008. ... David Eckstein hit his 200th career double on Saturday. He's one of 70 active players who have hit 200 or more doubles. ... Reliever Mike Adams has not allowed a run since June 12, a stretch of 18 innings. Adams has established himself as the Padres' eighth-inning specialist.

Tickets
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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• 4 San Diego

On radio
• XPRS 1090, XEMO 860 (Español)

Up next
• Tuesday: Padres (Tim Stauffer, 1-2, 2.57) vs. Braves (Javier Vazquez, 8-7, 3.01), 7:05 p.m. PT
• Wednesday: Padres (Chad Gaudin, 4-9, 4.76) vs. Braves (Tommy Hanson, 5-2, 3.25), 12:35 p.m. PT
• Thursday: Padres (Clayton Richard, 4-3, 4.47) vs. Mets (Oliver Perez, 2-3, 7.03), 7:05 p.m. PT

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.