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Latos thrilled with the way rotation is shaping up

The Reds paid a hefty price to acquire Mat Latos from the Padres over the winter. They had to part with prized hitting prospect Yonder Alonso and an enigma in starter Edinson Volquez.

Cincinnati will soon find out if Latos was worth the bounty. Latos will make his first start of the season on Saturday against the Marlins, two days after the Reds won for the second consecutive Opening Day. The 6-foot-6 right-hander has compiled 23 wins and a 3.21 ERA over the last two seasons with San Diego.

"He's still young at [24], and he's a power pitcher we think will pitch well in our park," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said at the time of the trade in December. "He's definitely a top-of-the-rotation guy who ... in time will develop into a No. 1 starter."

For now, Latos slides in behind ace Johnny Cueto in the Reds' rotation. The newcomer posted a 3.70 ERA in six Spring Training starts spanning 24 1/3 innings. He strained his left calf on March 27, but didn't miss an outing.

Latos has struggled in his career against the Marlins. In three starts against the Fish, he has surrendered 13 runs (12 earned) on 17 hits and nine walks in 11 2/3 innings.

Miami will counter with right-hander Ricky Nolasco, who went 10-12 with a 4.67 ERA last season. With ace Josh Johnson now healthy and the acquisition of veteran southpaw Mark Buehrle, Nolasco has settled into the No. 3 spot in the Marlins' rotation.

In eight career appearances (seven starts) against the Reds, Nolasco is 2-1 with a 5.28 ERA. In five Spring Training starts spanning 24 2/3 innings, Nolasco tallied a 5.47 ERA.

Marlins: Club not worried about slow starts
• Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse held Miami hitless for six innings on Wednesday. Reds hurler Johnny Cueto kept the Marlins without a base knock for the first 3 1/3 innings on Thursday.

Despite the hype surrounding the club after an offseason that brought a new manager, shortstop and ballpark, the Marlins maintain that there is nothing to worry about offensively.

"Everyone is over-analyzing a little bit," Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton said after the team's Opening Night loss to the Cardinals on Wednesday.

• Chris Coglan replaced left fielder Logan Morrison in the starting lineup for Thursday's game. Morrison, who started and went 1-for-3 in Wednesday's opener, has been nursing a sore knee.

"We had a plan," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We don't want to babysit him. But we need to be careful."

Coghlan went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in Thursday's 4-0 loss to the Reds at Great American Ballpark.

Reds: Cozart impresses in first Opening Day start
• Shortstop Zack Cozart collected two hits in four at-bats Thursday, when he became the first rookie to start at the position for Cincinnati since Frank Duffy in 1971.

Cozart hit .324 in 11 games last season before suffering a season-ending elbow injury. He batted .345 in 58 Spring Training at-bats.

• Despite not pitching for the Reds during Spring Training, new addition Alfredo Simon earned a spot in Cincinnati's bullpen. The Reds claimed the right-hander off waivers after he posted a 7.00 ERA in four spring games for the Orioles.

The Reds' bullpen was thrown a curveball when it lost closer Ryan Madson for the season to Tommy John surgery. Simon, with a 5.18 ERA in 78 career games, is expected to slide into middle relief.

"I'm glad to be here with the guys here," Simon said. "They're very nice. I will enjoy it here."

Worth noting
• In 11 career at-bats against Nolasco, Reds outfielder Drew Stubbs has six hits (.545).

• Current Marlins are just 8-for-32 (.250 average) in their careers against Latos.

• The Reds and Marlins split their six meetings last season.

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