It was once said by the all-time-great coach Jim Valvano, “that in order to be successful, you must never forget where you came from.” For Cincinnati Reds starter Johnny Cueto, that task will be pretty easy to accomplish as he returns to his old stomping ground with the Dayton Dragons for a rehab start on Thursday. Cueto has been out since April 13 with a lat-strain and has progressed a little slower than expected with tomorrow being his first live game since the injury.
“I feel pretty good, but we’ll see tomorrow how I feel for the game,” Cueto said. “It’s a lot different in the bullpen than it is in the game. I need to throw in a game.”
Cueto was absolutely magnificent in his time with the Dragons, posting an 8-1 record with a 2.60 ERA all at the age of 20. The plan is for Johnny to make one more rehab stop after Dayton and then rejoin the Reds next weekend in Philadelphia.
Cueto’s return sparks the controversial question of who will he replace in the rotation? Left-hander Tony Cingrani was brought up to fill in for Cueto. But with the way he has been pitching (2-0, 2.60 ERA and 33 strikeouts,), it would be a horrendous move to take him out. Instead, Mike Leake should be the one demoted or moved to the bullpen, as his numbers don’t even deserve to be on the same page as Cingrani’s. Leake has struggled mightily in 2013 with a .303 batting average against and only 28 strikeouts in over 41 innings. If the Reds choose to move Leake to the bullpen, then he could be a very useful spot starter and even fill in for Bronson Arroyo if he continues to struggle.
Cueto’s game tomorrow will start at 7:00pm as the Dayton Dragons take on the Lansing Lugnuts at Fifth Third Field.
“I like it there,” Cueto said of Dayton. “Good stadium, good people. Big crowds, there’s good memories. I’m happy to pitch there.”
It will be great to see Johnny in Dayton again, but all Cincinnati fans want to see him back with the big club as soon as possible.
Vinny Carozza is a MLB writer/columnist for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @VinnyCarozza or add him to your network on Google+