SARASOTA, Fla. - Francisco Cordero served as the interpreter for Johnny Cueto's post-game interview.
After he was done translating, Cordero continued the conversation with Cueto. Cueto was in need of the some mentoring and words of encouragement after Sunday's five-run, two-thirds of an inning disaster in the Reds' 10-9 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Ed Smith Stadium.
"We talked," Cordero said. "Everyone knows nobody is perfect. There are going to be those days when you can't find your pitches. You try your changeup, your fastball, your slider. It's just one of those days. You can't find your rhythm."
Cueto, a 22-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic, has been the sensation of camp. He had given up three runs in 13 innings before Sunday. He got the same message from a lot of other players.
"He felt terrible," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Everybody was giving him some love in the dugout. Everybody - Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn. I saw them all over there."
Cueto's control had been his strong suit. He had walked four in 13 innings before Sunday.
Sunday, he struggled from the start. He gave up a double to Akinori Iwamura to start the game.
He walked Carl Crawford on five pitches. Carlos Pena hit a 1-0 pitch out to left-center.
Cueto then got a pair of groundouts.
But Dioner Navarro walked.
Pitching coach Dick Pole visited the mound at that point.
"He told me to take more time," Cueto said. "He said I was wide open. I didn't have my same mechanics as other times I was pitching."
But Cueto walked Jason Bartlett on four pitches.
Joel Guzman followed with a two-run double. Cueto then walked pitcher Matt Garza on four pitches - none of which was close. When Iwamura walked, Baker came out and got Cueto.
"He was flying open," Baker said. "He couldn't make the correction. (Catcher Javier Valentin) kept trying to help him out there. When you're a young pitcher, things are going to happen sometimes."
Cueto threw 41 pitches, only 18 of which were strikes.
"Everybody goes through it," Cordero said. "It's going to happen. You can have 10 good days in a row and one day you can't throw strikes. When you do throw strikes, they hit it."
"I'm sure he understands. This was one outing."
Cueto said he was trying to over-throw.
"No, it was just one of those days," Cueto said.
He needs to be able to locate his fastball in order for his change-up and slider to work.
"I didn't feel my fastball," Cueto said. "I couldn't throw it for a strike."
Cueto is still slotted for the third spot in the rotation.
"This will show what kind of determination he has," Baker said. "I'm sure he has a lot of it. . . he'll be fine. You learn more from those outings than the good outings.
"I told him learn from this."