It’s important to keep in mind that the interview Mat Latos gave to Ken Rosenthal raised two distinct issues about the Reds. One was Latos’ criticism of the medical/training staff, the second was the shenanigans in the locker room and lack of clubhouse leadership.

I. Mat Latos is no more an expert on medical and training protocol than the average person. When you’re in the hospital the doctors and nurses determine when they want you to get up and walk around. They tell you when you’ll be healthy enough to go home. They are experts, based on handling the same issue numerous time, at knowing how to handle recovery periods. That was the issue raised by Latos yesterday.

“I was told that I needed to start doing activities at a minimum of 10 days after surgery. They had me throwing on the fifth day after surgery. Then they had me running the seventh day after surgery. Then I was already lifting 10 days after surgery.”

At no point in the interview did Latos allege that he didn’t feel ready to take these steps at the time or that these were the decisions that led to him returning too early. Further, in the Rosenthal interview, Latos put the blame on *himself* for rushing back:

“If there is one thing I could change, I would have not come back so soon. I tried to get out there as quickly as possible to help out the team.”

“I rushed myself and tried to get back as soon as possible, tried to compete with the team. I wound up costing myself.”

Those remarks are consistent with the comments Latos made last June – when he *complained that the medical staff was being too cautious in holding him back* and not letting him start. Read this article from John Fay and compare Latos’ statements then to now.

“They took me out as a precaution. I didn’t want to come out. It’s pretty bogus I have to go on another rehab assignment. But it it is what it is. I don’t make the decisions around here. I’m a puppet on a string. I get told to do what I need to do and I do it. … I can tell you I’m about as healthy as I’ve been. I could pitch in a game if I needed to.”

Just my opinion, but the comments Mat Latos made yesterday on the medical staff are directly opposed to what he said nine months ago. He lacks expertise and credibility on that topic. It strikes me as a cheap shot levied against an easy, distant target.

II. The behavior of his teammates and lack of player leadership is a separate issue. Latos was asked what qualities he brought to the Marlins. Instead of answering the question he was asked, the former Reds pitcher went out of his way to trash the team who had just traded him.

Well, that one little veteran presence in there can make a big difference.

You look at the Reds after we lost Bronson (Arroyo, after the 2013 season). Everything went to s—. You look at it after we lost Scott Rolen (after 2012). Everything went to s—. When Scott was there, we had guys doing exactly what they were supposed to do. After Scott left, we had guys with two years in the big leagues, in the clubhouse, on their phones, laying down in the video room, just hanging out during games, not in the dugout, not cheering their teammates on. Our dugout looked like a ghost town.

After Bronson, the same exact thing. We had starters in there roping our (clubhouse attendants), like, cattle-roping our clubbies. Guys on their computers, buying stuff, hanging out in the clubhouse. We had a guy with a year-and-a-half in the big leagues wandering around the clubhouse, hanging out. We had a closer in there sleeping until the seventh inning. We lose that veteran leadership, that’s what happens. You can’t have that … it turns into a circus.

It’s important to divide this assertion into two parts. One aspect is the re-telling of what he saw. Sleeping closers, cattle-roping pitchers, players shunning responsibilities during games, etc. Those are factual claims. They either did or didn’t happen. It’s hard to imagine Latos would just make those things up out of spite.

Still, there’s a context. How often did these incidents happen? One time or were they daily events? And how does this compare to other major league clubhouses? The answers to those questions don’t exonerate the behavior, but they are relevant to whether the problems are isolated or chronic. Was the circus in town one day or all year? Those are all questions of fact.

The second aspect to the clubhouse claim is Mat Latos’ assertion that the lack of leadership is what caused this behavior to break out, specifically the departure of Scott Rolen and Bronson Arroyo. That’s an opinion, not a fact. It may be right or wrong, but it’s an opinion.

If the Reds are insufficiently disciplined during games and in their preparation, that’s important — it needs to be addressed and corrected. If Latos’ reports are accurate, and they are not isolated events, then much of the responsibility falls at the feet of Dusty Baker and Bryan Price, who tolerated the behavior.

But there’s plenty of reason to be skeptical of Latos’ claims absent further corroboration. He was way too eager of a witness. The question he answered wasn’t even about the Reds. Yes, current Reds players and employees have an incentive to whitewash the situation. But it’s also obvious that Mat Latos has an axe to grind. His comments regarding the Reds choosing to resign Johnny Cueto instead of him struck me as full of resentment. They add to the suspicion that Latos is peddling the distorted account of a scorned lover.

The Reds’ concerns about Mat Latos’ maturity have been well known since long before the tattooed pitcher dropped this bombshell. This offseason, when the club decided which pitchers to trade and which ones to keep, it’s easy to imagine that factored into letting Latos go.

Mat Latos’ short-sighted comments (what club will want him now, knowing that he could tattle on them once he leaves?) may cause heartburn in Goodyear for a while, but in the end, they confirm the Reds made the right decision to ship him off.

III. Anyhow, the first comments from Goodyear in response to Mat Latos have arrived.

From Devin Mesoraco:

“Mat’s no longer with the team, so at this point I’m happy with the guys we have in the room and focused on this year. Whatever he wants to say or thinks he has to say is fine.”

“Those guys in there (medical/training staff) do an unbelievable job. I fought and fought and fought to say ‘hey, I want to play on Opening Day.’ They kind of held me back. 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 in the game couldn’t be further from the truth. They really had to hold me back because I wanted to be in there so bad. Even the second time, when I pulled my hamstring, it was the same thing. … They did exactly what they’re supposed to.” 

From Homer Bailey:

From manager Bryan Price: