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Kapler noncommittal on possible Cueto return as playoffs approach

© Wendell Cruz | 2021 Aug 25

Johnny Cueto hit the 10-day injured list on Sept. 1, a day after struggling in a 3.2-inning effort against the Milwaukee Brewers. In the two weeks since, the 35-year-old hasn’t resumed baseball activities.

He’s trending in the right direction,” manager Gabe Kapler said of Cueto. “He hasn’t picked up a ball, that’s not on the immediate horizon.”

Cueto is on the injured list with a right elbow strain. He also suffered a right flexor strain in early August. The starter has recorded a 4.09 ERA this season, his 14th in the majors. 

Against Milwaukee on Aug. 31, Cueto posted the day after he received IV fluids for flu-like symptoms. Kapler said he’d also been dealing with a sore elbow for about a week prior to the start. He allowed 10 hits to the Brewers as his four-seam fastball clocked in about 2 mph slower than his season average. 

Without Cueto, as well as Alex Wood (COVID-19), the Giants have resorted to more bullpen games than they’d been accustomed to. In the last three games without a traditional starter, SF is 2-1 including a victory over Cy Young Award contender Walker Buehler. 

Monday will be another one of such games, with reliever Dominic Leone opening against the San Diego Padres. The Giants have a chance to become the first team in MLB this season to clinch a playoff berth. With 19 regular season games remaining, Cueto would have to ramp up rather quickly to return in time for the playoffs. 

When asked if he’s confident, encouraged or hopeful Cueto can pitch again this season, Kapler gave a non-answer. 

“Everything’s on the table at this point,” Kapler said. “We’ll see how it goes.” 

  • Alex Wood played long toss in left field in a full uniform before the Giants took pregame batting practice. He’s scheduled to throw a bullpen session, too. Kapler said he’s in “good spirits.”

    “That (bullpen) could potentially lead to an up-down, but we’re just going to see how today goes,” Kapler said. “There’s no road map in place yet. we’ll see how today’s pen goes. Definitely the first step in a few, and one that’s going to give us a little more information about how he’s doing and how much strength he has.” 
  • José Quintana was reinstated from paternity leave Monday, and Mauricio Dubón was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento in a corresponding move. 
  • Alex Dickerson and Donovan Solano each scored a run in their rehab assignments for the River Cats Monday. They’ll each play again in Tacoma Tuesday, then Kapler could make a decision to call them up on their off-day Wednesday, likely to return to the big league club Thursday. 
  • In the clubhouse about three hours before first pitch, the Giants kept it loose with their music selection, opting for an R&B-heavy playlist. “Down” by Jay Sean, “Because of You” by Ne-Yo, and “Hypnotize” by Plies ft. Akon were among the several early-2000s tracks played. Kapler wasn’t sure who was on aux, but noted Brandon Crawford as a likely candidate.

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