Johnny Cueto Injury: Updates on Reds Star's Lat Strain

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistJune 5, 2013

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto's injury-plagued 2013 season has suffered yet another setback.

UPDATE: Sunday, June 16, at 11:45 a.m. ET by Sam Westmoreland

Cueto is going to come off of the disabled list on Sunday, when he makes his first start since May 31, according to a report from Trent Rosencrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer

Per that report:

Johnny Cueto will be activated prior to Sunday’s game with Brewers to make his first start since May 31, Reds manager Dusty Baker. Ceuto made his second appearance on the disabled list June 5 with a right shoulder injury and is eligible to return Monday (because the move was made retroactive to the first day of June).

---End Update---

According to John Fay, who is a beat writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer, Cueto has been scratched from his scheduled start Wednesday night against the Colorado Rockies and will be placed on the 15-day disabled list with a lat injury:

Reds manager Dusty Baker spoke to the media after making the announcement and clarified the severity of the injury. According to Fox Sports' Jim Day, Cueto's injury is not thought to be a long-term ailment, with the DL trip likely only costing Cueto one or two starts:

As noted by Day, Pedro Villarreal will get the start against Colorado on Wednesday. The 25-year-old righty has yet to make a start this year and has just one career inning of big league experience under his belt.    

For Cueto, this injury marks another frustration in a season full of arm problems for the 27-year-old righty.

Cueto first injured his lat muscle in a start against the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 13, an injury originally thought to be a less-serious triceps injury. He was subsequently placed on the disabled list after the team received the correct diagnosis, and he was out of the rotation for more than a month. He returned May 20 against the New York Mets

Though this injury is thought to be less serious than the original, Cincinnati has to be concerned about its ace.

A bastion of health throughout his career, Cueto's most major injury prior to this was a strained back muscle suffered in 2011. He has made at least 30 starts in four of his five years of service prior to 2013, a mark he will almost certainly miss this season.

Even as Cueto has suffered through an injury-plagued campaign, he has been unsurprisingly sublime whenever he has been able to take the mound. Mixing plus pitches with a renowned sense of command, he is 3-0 on the season with a 2.17 ERA in six starts. He's been borderline unhittable, as batters have combined for a .157 average against him this season, and he's struck out a career-high 8.2 per nine innings.

Since returning from injury, Cueto has gone 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA. He went eight scoreless inning against the Pirates Friday night, allowing just one hit against Cincinnati's NL Central rival. 

Should the injury keep Cueto off the mound longer than expected, though, it could be a crushing blow for Cincinnati. The Reds head into Wednesday night's action with a 36-23 record, just 2.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for first place in the NL Central.

The Reds aren't alone in their chase for first place, though. The Pittsburgh Pirates are nipping at Cincinnati's heels for second place in the ultra-competitive Central, and there is a cabal of teams still very much in the wild-card race. 

By the sounds of it, Cueto's injury shouldn't last long enough to create that crippling effect. Should things change, however, the Reds might have to hit the open market in search of a replacement for their ace.


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