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.

Report: Astros, Michael Brantley agree to two-year, $32 million contract

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.

Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.

Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.

Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.