Padres Prospect Interview: Mat Latos

San Diego Padres prospect Mat Latos is buying in. Strikeouts? He'd rather have a ground ball. The changeup? No longer a forgotten part of his repertoire.

The oblique injury was a big a big part of your 2008 season. You tried to come back once and it didn't work out so well. Talk about that and how you eventually returned to full health.

Mat Latos: The original injury was something with my ribs. I came back and then wound up tearing an oblique. They sent me to Arizona and I had to rehab it for about two months. At the end of August, I was finally able to come back. I did what the trainers told me to do. They had me on a strict program and finally got some innings.

It seemed like you were two different pitchers this season. The end of the year, you were firing on all cylinders while you seemed to be still getting your feet under you early on. Was there a difference?

Mat Latos: Yes, finding my stuff more and getting back into it. I was a lot healthier.

I was also able to stay on top of my slider more instead of throwing it more like a curveball. I was finishing off pitches. My trainers really came through at the end of the year for me.

The biggest difference was throwing the fastball and being able to rely on my changeup and my slider instead of throwing the fastball and changeup and maybe having a slider that day.

You went out the Padres Instructional League. Was there a specific gameplan in mind for you?

Mat Latos: Just to get some more innings. That would be the most important thing.

Do you feel like you lost a year of developmental time?

Mat Latos: Kind of. When everything is said and done, I got in the best work that I could and stayed with it. The last three weeks that I was in Arizona, I dominated my last three starts. When I went up to Eugene for those three starts, I left it on the best note that I could.

This way, when I come to spring training, I can show that I don't belong in the lower levels and this is where I need to be.

We know the changeup is a relatively new pitch for you after shelving the splitter. You mentioned going to it with confidence. How good has that pitch become for you?

Mat Latos: Its coming along really well. It still has a ways to go. I still have command issues here and there. I baby it sometimes. Overall, it is probably the second pitch I am going to go to because I would rather throw that than the slider on a 0-2 count or 1-2 count. I would rather get the ground ball than strikeout people. It cuts down on pitch counts.

How far is that from the original mentality of when you first came into the pros. Everybody wants to strike every one out when they first come out of college.

Mat Latos: I can't say anything. I was the same way. When I was in Eugene, I tried to shove it by everybody. I kind of picked it up in Fort Wayne. I realized I would rather have 14 ground ball outs than 14 strikeouts. It is less wear and tear on my arm to throw 50 pitches than 75 pitches.

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