Mat Latos throws first bullpen session of spring

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Reds right-hander Mat Latos needed surgery in early February for a torn meniscus in his left knee and has yet to appear in a Cactus League game. But he took a significant step forward on Wednesday in camp:

Mat Latos threw off of the mound for the first time since his left knee surgery on Feb. 14 to repair a meniscus tear. Latos threw 20 pitches, including five changeups. The rest, he said, were two-seam and four-seam fastballs.

That report comes from MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon.

“Everything feels fantastic,” Latos told Sheldon shortly after the workout. “I expected a little bit of soreness while I was throwing or to feel it once or twice. … I let go for the last one and cut it loose and didn’t feel anything in the knee or the elbow. That’s a plus.”

Latos seems unlikely to pitch on Opening Day (March 31 against the Cardinals) but he should be ready by the first or second week of April. The 26-year-old registered a 3.16 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 187 strikeouts in 210 2/3 innings last season for Cincinnati. He is eligible to become a free agent after the 2015 campaign.

Yankees to hire Josh Bard as their new bench coach

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Aaron Boone has no experience as a coach or a manager at any level. As such, some have speculated that he’d hire a more seasoned hand as his bench coach as he begins his first season as Yankees manager. Someone like, say, Eric Wedge, who was a candidate for the job Boone got and who once managed Boone in Cleveland.

Nope. According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, he’s going with Josh Bard.

Bard, 39, was a teammate of Boone’s with the Indians in 2005. He’s not without coaching experience, having spent the last two seasons as the Dodgers’ bullpen coach, but he’s not that Gene Lamont/Don Zimmer-type we often see in the bench coach role.

Which is fine because different managers want different things from their bench coach. Some are strategy guys, helping with in-game decision making. Others are relationship guys who help managers understand all of the dynamics of the clubhouse while they’re worrying more about lineups and stuff. Others are trust guys, who can serve as the manager’s sounding board, among other things. Some are combinations of all of these things. As Feinsand notes in his story, Boone said at his introductory press conference that he’s looking for this:

“I want smart sitting next to me. I want confidence sitting next to me. I want a guy who can walk out into that room and as I talk about relationships I expect to have with my players, I expect that even to be more so with my coaching staff. Whether that is a guy with all kinds of experience or little experience. I am not concerned about that.”