A shoulder problem prevented Mat Latos(notes) from making the opening day start for the San Diego Padres. Now healthy, the right-hander finally has the chance to build on his successful first full year in the majors.
Latos is expected to come off the disabled list to make his 2011 debut Monday night when the Padres open a three-game set with the Cincinnati Reds at Petco Park.
The 23-year-old Latos had a 2.92 ERA and was one of three San Diego pitchers to win a team-high 14 games last season. He was tabbed to open the season for the Padres (4-4) in St. Louis on March 31 until bursitis in his shoulder was discovered two days after a March 21 spring training start.
After passing his bullpen sessions, Latos appears set to return.
“It’s time to get him back on the horse,” manager Bud Black told the Padres’ official website. “He feels ready. … I think he’s excited for his first start of the year.”
Though the reigning NL Central champion Reds (6-3) are again at the top the division, Latos allowed one run and a hit in seven innings of a 7-1 win at Cincinnati on July 29.
The Padres, who won four of six against Cincinnati last season, will try to win two straight after snapping a three-game skid with a 7-2 win over Los Angeles on Sunday.
Ludwick is just 3 for 25 with three RBIs this season, but batting .314 his last 11 games against the Reds.
“He knows his place on this team and what his presence means to our team,” Black said. “He takes it hard when he is not playing well. Hopefully, it is the start of something big for him.”
The Reds hope Volquez (1-0, 7.36 ERA) can solve his early-inning troubles after he gave up seven runs and threw 74 pitches in the first inning of his first two starts. Fortunately for the right-hander, his teammates gave him 6.55 average runs of support in those outings.
Volquez allowed four runs in the first then followed with four scoreless innings in a 12-4 win over Houston on Wednesday.
“Maybe he just needs to go out there and calm down a little bit,” teammate Brandon Phillips(notes) told the Reds’ official website. “I know there’s a lot of pressure on him being the No. 1 starter and everybody is expecting big things from him. But he’s a great pitcher and we have his back. Hopefully, he’ll learn from the mistakes.”
Though Volquez does not have a decision in two starts versus San Diego, he has a 2.31 ERA in those games.
Cincinnati looks to regroup after falling 10-8 at Arizona on Sunday. The Reds dropped two of three to the Diamondbacks for their first series loss of 2011. They have lost three of four since starting 5-0.
Despite the Reds’ recent struggles, Votto is batting.455 with six RBIs. The reigning NL MVP is hitting .393 with four home runs and 10 RBIs in nine games at Petco Park.
Cincinnati has not won a series in San Diego since 2005.