Cueto eyeing strong finish to season
Right-hander looking for positive end to challenging year
By Jeff Wallner / Special to MLB.com
09/20/09 12:42 PM ET
CINCINNATI -- This season, Johnny Cueto has had to overcome shoulder inflammation and a recent bout with the flu. The 23-year old right-hander now says he feels better than ever and is looking forward to finishing the season strong.
Cueto, who was scratched from Thursday's scheduled start against the Marlins due to the flu, threw a bullpen session prior to Sunday's game against the Marlins at Great American Ball Park.
He's scheduled to make his 28th start on Tuesday against the Pirates at PNC Park.
"He's shown big-time maturity this season," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "He started off great then hit a bit of a lull. We have to monitor how much we pitch him."
Cueto, who's 9-10 with a 4.41 ERA with 153 innings pitched, admitted to being fatigued earlier this season, which resulted in him being placed on the disabled list in August with inflammation in his right shoulder.
Cueto says pitching in both winter ball and the World Baseball Classic this past offseason took its toll.
"I was tired," Cueto said on Sunday. "I could feel it in my shoulder, my arm. But now it's all better. I feel good."
Cueto began the season 8-4 with a 2.69 ERA, but went 0-6 with a 10.64 ERA in his next eight outings before being placed on the DL.
"He loves to pitch, loves to work," said Baker. "We need to make sure we don't throw him too much. There's a lot of pressure on Dominican players to play winter ball. He's used to pitching in winter ball."
Cueto agreed with Baker's assessment that he's matured since his rookie season, when he went 9-14 with a 4.81 ERA in 31 starts.
"I learned a lot," Cueto said. "It helped to pitch a lot. I feel much better now."