SF Giants starter Johnny Cueto heads to IL with lat strain in blow to starting rotation

A dream start to the season for Giants right-hander Johnny Cueto hit a road block as the veteran pitcher was placed on the 10-day injured list Thursday with a Grade 1 lat strain.

Cueto was excellent in 5 2/3 innings against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday, but after blowing a 93-mile per hour fastball past Nick Castellanos for his fourth strikeout of the day, the starter motioned to the dugout for assistance.

Cueto left the field alongside Giants trainer Dave Groeschner and was diagnosed with the lat strain Thursday, which will force the Giants to reshuffle their rotation. Manager Gabe Kapler announced pregame Wednesday that left-hander Alex Wood would be reinstated from the injured list Sunday to face the Miami Marlins, so the Giants moved Logan Webb to the bullpen to free up a spot in their rotation.

Webb threw an inning of scoreless ball in relief of Cueto in Wednesday’s 3-0 victory, but his stay in the bullpen figures to be short as Kapler said he’s the most likely candidate to take Cueto’s place in the rotation.

Cueto started the first and last games of a 5-1 homestand for the Giants as he tossed 8 2/3 innings of one-run ball against the Rockies in the team’s home opener before blanking the Reds through 5 2/3 innings on Wednesday. Cueto lowered his ERA to 1.80 on the season with his effort, but he’ll now miss at least one start and potentially more as he recovers from the injury.

The Giants plan to announce a corresponding roster move Friday in Miami and will likely add another reliever to their bullpen. Any transaction to add a right-hander will likely require San Francisco to clear space on its 40-man roster as the Giants do not appear ready to promote any of their highly touted righty relief prospects, Kevin Castro, Camilo Doval and Gregory Santos.

If the Giants add a left-hander, Sam Selman and Conner Menez are the two southpaws on the 40-man roster who have been training at the alternate site.

With significant contributions from Cueto, the Giants’ rotation finished Wednesday’s game with a 2.66 ERA, which ranked sixth in the majors. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers’ starters (73 2/3) had thrown more innings than the Giants’ starters (71.0) through Wednesday.

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Author: Kerry Crowley

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