The Padres have made sure to use their kid gloves on their kid ace, Mat Latos.
Latos is just 22 and in his second season in the majors. His right arm is as important to San Diego as the Pacific Ocean. But the Padres are also in a pennant race and also have to keep an eye on playoffs.
With that in mind, the Padres are giving Latos two more days rest next week. In addition to Monday's off day, his Wednesday start against Arizona has been pushed back to Friday's series-opener against Philadelphia.
"It's an opportunity with the off-day to get him a few days more of rest," Padres manager Bud Black told MLB.com . "We mentioned you might see this in the second half. He's been going at it hard the last number of starts."
The Padres have been cautious with Latos already, putting him on the disabled list after a sneeze caused him side pain. That gave him 16 days between starts.
The team has said it hopes to keep him between 150-180 innings this season. Latos has already thrown 142 2/3 innings this season (with a 13-5 record and 2.33 ERA).
Last season, Latos threw a total of 123 innings, 50 2/3 for San Diego and 72 1/3 innings between Class A and Double-A. He threw 56 innings in 2008 and 56 1/3 in 2007.
With a five-game lead over the Giants in the National League West, the Padres have some breathing room. More important than padding their lead at this point is making sure Latos is ready for the postseason. With him having already made such a big jump in innings, it's only prudent to do what the Padres are doing now -- and likely through the rest of the season.
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
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