2/15/2014 2:15 P.M. ET
Reds hope Francis adds depth to rotation
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- One of a handful of free agents signed by the Reds about a month before Spring Training, veteran left-hander Jeff Francis was added to provide depth in the rotation. Francis, 33, is a non-roster invite on a Minor League contract.
"They called and I thought that was good," Francis said. "Maybe there is familiarity. They've seen me here before and know what I can bring and the role I can fill potentially."
In 23 games last season with the Rockies, including 12 starts, Francis was 3-5 with a 6.27 ERA. In 2012, he was in Reds camp on a Minor League deal, but opted for his release in June while pitching at Triple-A Louisville to sign a big league deal with Colorado.
"We like what he can do. First and foremost, we feel like he's a competitive Major League pitcher," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "We wanted to have depth in a place where we weren't asking a young player to come up and do something you can't really quantify what his success chances are."
The Reds' depth could be tested as frontline starter Mat Latos needed minor surgery on his left knee on Friday. Latos' readiness for Opening Day is unknown, which could open the door for Francis or someone like veteran right-hander Chien-Ming Wang, who is also in camp on a Minor League contract.
Francis spent 2004-10 with the Rockies and 2011 with the Royals. He won 17 games in 2007.
"If we have something happen in Spring Training, it would be nice to be able to support our rotation with a guy that's been there, that's had success and we also think he's a great fit personally," Price said. "He blends in with what we're trying to do here, which is to create a culture of preparation, professionalism and competitiveness. He is that guy. He fits that role."
Day after surgery, Latos reports no pain in knee
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Barely 24 hours from having knee surgery, and one might not be able to tell that Reds pitcher Mat Latos had anything done to his leg.
On Friday, Latos had minor surgery to fix a meniscus tear in his left knee. On Saturday, he was walking without crutches and without a limp.
"Everything feels good," Latos said. "I'm doing stability exercises. I'm able to balance on that leg. I'm walking. It's unfortunate what happened. It was a freak thing. It wasn't anything I could do as far as getting into shape. I couldn't have prepared any more than I did."
Latos, who had been progressing without issue from October arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow, was throwing earlier this week and slipped.
"My foot stayed planted and I just twisted and my foot didn't give," Latos said. "My knee just kept twisting with all of my body weight on it. I just felt a pop and we're here now."
Reds medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek expected Latos to resume his throwing program 10 days after the surgery. What this does for Latos' readiness for Opening Day remains uncertain. Latos declined to put a timetable on anything.
"There's really no rush to get back. We're not going to win a championship in April," Latos said. "That being said, I would love to be out there Opening Day and pitching against the Cardinals. I guess a good sign is you see me up and walking around. There is no limp. There is no pain. I haven't taken any pain medication since the surgery. Everything feels good. Everything feels comfortable.
"We're just going to play it by ear. Kremchek says seven to 10 days when I'm actually able to start throwing on it. He's the doctor, not me. I just throw a baseball for a living."
Price explains Reds' new facial hair policy
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- When word circulated on social media Friday that new Reds manager Bryan Price was going to enforce a mustache and beard policy, it created a kerfuffle among some outraged fans. The Reds, who had a clean shaven rule for their players up until the late 1990s, are now telling them to keep beards and mustaches trimmed and neat.
What might have been a controversy outside of the clubhouse was not one inside.
"He just wants us to look professional, nothing unkempt. Just keep it clean," Reds reliever J.J. Hoover said.
Price sensed that people were talking about the rule when he met with reporters on Saturday morning.
"Should we talk about the beard?" Price said. "I think every year, you re-invest some time in your policies. We're going to spend some time with our core group of more established players and really talk about what we feel is important, not just from my perspective, but from a team and organizational perspective. I don't think you're going to be terribly successful if you sit there and turn back the clock on the clubhouse too far. I believe in our initial policy that facial hair is fine, but just keep it under control."
Price said the suggestion for trimmed beards did not come from ownership. There will be discussion of other team rules in a meeting once the full squad reports on Wednesday.
"There will be certain things I feel adamant about and some things we should talk about collectively," Price said. "In the end, if you have policies that guys don't buy into in the clubhouse, you're going to spend way more time than you want trying to enforce things that guys just don't agree with. I don't think there is anybody in there that's looking to turn this place into Fantasy Island and go crazy in there. Everybody wants to understand what the rules are and where the lines are drawn."
Hoover and fellow relievers Sam LeCure, Logan Ondrusek and Curtis Partch had beards last season. Hoover's was particularly burly and long.
"It doesn't matter to me. It's just a beard. It's just hair," Hoover said. "I'm happy I don't have to go clean shaven every day. It's fine."
One player who is popular, in part, because of his big, bushy mustache is catcher Corky Miller. Is his facial hair safe?
"Corky is going to be just fine," Price said.
Price holding off on announcing Opening Day starter
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- In recent seasons, the Reds seemed to know who their Opening Day starter would be before Spring Training even started. For example, from 2006-10, it was Aaron Harang. The last two seasons, it was Johnny Cueto.
Reds manager Bryan Price wasn't ready to announce a decision on Saturday. It sounded like it could be Cueto, Mat Latos or Homer Bailey, but for the time being, it's TBA.
"I have an idea of what I want to do," Price said. "I'd like to make sure our guys are healthy. We know Mat has been banged up. Johnny has been the man and continues to be, but we want to make sure he is healthy. Homer has turned his corner I think. Me personally, I love Johnny at the top of our rotation. There are other guys I would be happy with at the top as well."