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Johnny Cueto hits IL with right elbow strain in another blow to Giants rotation



© Neville E. Guard | 2021 Aug 31

A day after Johnny Cueto struggled against the Milwaukee Brewers in a 3.2-inning, six-run effort, he’s arrived on the 10-day injured list. 

The night before his Brewers outing, Cueto received IV fluids to combat cold and flu-like symptoms. Cueto, 35, then allowed 10 hits to Milwaukee while his four-seam fastball clocked in two miles per hour below his season average. 

“Johnny being Johnny, he’s comfortable posting when he’s not at his best,” manager Gabe Kapler told reporters before Wednesday night’s game. “And I think really that’s what he came to do for us yesterday. He knew he wasn’t going to be at his best, but he’s going to give us everything he had. He understood that we’re in this stretch of no off days coming up, and nothing behind us.

Cueto has been dealing with the injury for at least a week, Kapler said. He wanted to start for the Giants despite the pain to preserve the bullpen, which is at risk to become taxed due to other ailments affecting the pitching staff. 

Starter Alex Wood is on the COVID-19 IL after testing positive Monday. Kapler said Wood is still feeling sick, experiencing chills and body aches. He added he hasn’t had a conversation with Wood about whether or not he’s comfortable disclosing his vaccination status. 

Anthony DeSclafani, meanwhile, recently came off the IL due to a right ankle injury. In his one start since returning, he lasted three innings against the Braves. 

Cueto has recorded a 4.09 ERA this season, his 14th in the majors. Less than a month ago, Cueto missed 15 games for a right flexor strain. Kapler expects him to return on a similar timetable. 

“Next time he steps on the mound for us, we want him to be at his best,” Kapler said.

But without Cueto and Wood in the short term, expect the Giants to try to eat up innings with bullpen games. The roster expanded Sept. 1, and SF recalled southpaw Caleb Baragar and righty John Brebbia. SF also recently claimed José Quintana, who impressed in his debut. 

  • Donovan Solano is still quarantined in New York, seven days after testing positive for COVID-19. He’s turned the corner and is feeling better, though. Hitting coach Justin Viele, meanwhile, has tested negative and is on his way back to the Bay. He can return to the team with another negative swab test, Kapler said.

  • The Giants shook up their lineup ahead of Wednesday’s contest, placing Darin Ruf in the leadoff spot. The change comes after SF has scored three runs in their last three games — all losses. Kapler said Ruf, a generally even-keeled guy, didn’t have much of a reaction to the move. He notably also pitched in a game this year. 
  • Tommy La Stella is available off the bench, Kapler said. The second-baseman missed the last two games with left side tightness.