TEMPE, Ariz. -- Reds starter Mat Latos is progressing well enough from recent surgeries on his right elbow and left knee that he could be ready to open the season on the big league roster, manager Bryan Price said Sunday.
According to the first-year skipper, Latos would have to throw one more bullpen session, live batting practice and make four spring starts to build up enough arm strength to be ready for Opening Day.
Considering the Reds open at home against the Cardinals on March 31, the time frame is pretty tight.
"With the schedule we have written, there's time to do all that, but everything would have to go right," Price said. "Right now, it's likely he'll have one more bullpen and pitch to live hitters before we evaluate."
Latos was 14-7 with a 3.16 ERA and 187 strikeouts in 210 2/3 innings last season, but he had to undergo arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips in his right elbow this past October. Although his arm was ready before Spring Training, Latos tore the meniscus in his left knee throwing in the bullpen the week the team reported to camp, requiring another round of surgery.
Price said Latos had a good bullpen session Saturday, the right-hander's third since returning from rehabbing the knee, and was encouraged by the 26-year-old's progress.
"It's been terrific," Price said. "He's still working real hard on the strength of his leg and still doing all the work he needs on his elbow.
"He looks strong. There are no inhibitions to his throwing. He's throwing the ball very hard. I don't see any reason not to be optimistic that he'll be able to follow his regimen all the way up to his first start."
Price said it's essential that Latos be able to build up to at least 90 pitches before he can open the regular season. Price also said he hasn't informed Latos when he might make his first spring start.
"He's going to have to make a minimum of four starts to get his pitch count up high enough to pitch in a big league game," Price said. "I say that because as much as it may not seem that innings are important in April, the innings our starters don't pitch, our relievers do. I think 90 pitches for Mat is reasonable. That gives him a chance to throw six innings comfortably and not tax our bullpen."
Price pleased with first look at expanded replay
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Sunday's game was the first for the Reds this spring during which the new instant replay challenge system was in play, and manager Bryan Price utilized and lost his challenge on a tag play at second base during the fifth inning.
Hank Conger knocked in Erick Aybar with a ground single to short right field. Roger Bernadina made his throw to the plate, and as Aybar scored, catcher Brayan Pena caught the peg a few steps toward the first-base line and tried to toss out Conger at second.
Shortstop Ramon Santiago made a sweep tag, but umpire Jim Reynolds called Conger safe.
After a review of 2 minutes, 15 seconds, the call was upheld by umpire Gerry Davis, viewing it on site in a truck. Under the new rule, Price lost his ability to challenge another play before the seventh inning, although the umpires can use their discretion to have any play reviewed.
"It worked out really well, actually," Price said after the Reds dropped a 3-1 decision to the Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium. "We didn't get the call overturned, but we got a chance to have more dialogue with the umpires. As far as the protocol goes, going out there and engaging and kind of understanding the dos and don'ts.
"One thing that was terrific was that they kind of conferred first so that we didn't have to unnecessarily use a challenge if maybe [another] umpire had a clearer vantage point and overturned that call before using a challenge. And that puts the onus on the other manager. Pretty interesting stuff."
Price said he was told that four replay angles were viewed in the truck and that all were inconclusive. Another angle that showed the play was conclusively called right was not fed to the truck, he added.
"Because of the inconclusive angles, they couldn't overturn the call," he said. "But the one angle that was conclusive provided the same result anyway. It all worked out."
During the regular season, all calls will be made by an umpiring crew stationed in a replay studio at Major League Baseball Advanced Media offices in New York.
"They're getting less confusing as we're absorbing it, trying it every day," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, whose club has been involved in multiple replay games this spring. "I think the whole logistics of seeing the replay, getting it to the umpire, will be better during the season because of the ability to see the play from many angles, hopefully in a timely fashion, from New York."
Broxton on track for return; Marshall delayed
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Reds manager Bryan Price said on Sunday that he's happy with the progress of one of his relievers, right-hander Jonathan Broxton, but much more guarded about left-hander Sean Marshall.
Broxton had surgery to repair a torn flexor mass in his right forearm in August and hasn't pitched yet during Spring Training. Marshall suffered a recurrence of the left shoulder tendinitis that caused him to be placed on the disabled list twice last season.
"Broxton has a throwing schedule that leads him into live batting practice, and I don't know the exact date for that," Price said. "He hasn't had any setbacks. He's been terrific every time he's thrown, not just in his bullpens, but in his long toss. We should know realistically as we get into the last 10 days of spring whether he'll be on time to start the season.
"I don't anticipate there being any issues with his elbow. He looks strong. His delivery is good. He's throwing his breaking ball now so the next step will be live batting practice before getting him into games."
Marshall, though, has been slowed down.
"He had some real challenges with the shoulder last year," Price said. "Every time we seemed to get close, we took a step back. So we didn't want to go down that road again. He checked out well with Dr. [Tim] Kremchek. He's done a lot of offseason work, but he just didn't get out of the gates the way we hoped. Instead of pushing him through it, force him through it, we decided to take a step back.
"He's been playing catch, but he hasn't gotten back on the mound yet. We're hoping that's going to come soon. And if it does, and there are no setbacks from that point, it's still realistic to see him on the Opening Day roster. But if we're talking about it being a week from now, that might be more of a challenge."
• The Reds announced that former coach and interim manager Chris Speier has been named as an assistant to Walt Jocketty, the team's president of baseball operations and general manager.
Speier was the bench coach for six seasons under Dusty Baker and acted as Baker's replacement when the former manager suffered a stroke during the 2012 season. Bryan Price replaced Baker this offseason.
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.