Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Johnny Cueto impresses in return to mound

Johnny Cueto's first pitching outing in over two and a half months was everything he and the Reds could have hoped it would be.

Activated from the disabled list prior to the game, Cueto proceeded to toss five innings of five-hit, no-run baseball en route to improving his record to 5-2 on the season. More importantly, however, is the fact that Cueto looked like vintage Cueto.

“It was fun to have him back out there,” battery mate Ryan Hanigan said. “What are you going to say? Johnny executed all game — a couple of the hits were infield hits. But he looked good to me. It was impressive to see that quality of stuff the first time out. That went about as good as it could have gone. Five scoreless, boom, right out of the gate, hopefully get his pitch count up next time and hopefully take that guy into the postseason.”

Teammate Zack Cozart could tell a difference in Cueto, too.

“Awesome — everyone knows it in the locker room, we knew when he came back too soon twice, we could tell with his stuff out there that he didn’t feel right,” Cozart said. “You could see tonight that he feels healthy. He wanted to go more than the five innings.”

Cueto admitted that he felt good and suggested he could have pitched more than just five innings after tossing 82 pitches.

“I feel normal, I feel like I was pitching the whole year,” Cueto said through trainer Tomas Vera. “I could have gone up for the sixth and seventh, as well.”

Dusty Baker also raved about Cueto's performance.

"He was pretty sharp," Baker said. "Had good velocity. Let's hope that he continues to be well, continues to get better, his endurance gets better.

"That's a tremendous shot in the arm for our team," Baker said. "Guys were psyched that he was out there."

A healthy Cueto is definitely a good thing for this team heading down the final stretch of the season. But let us not forget that his outing on Monday came against the worst team in the majors by far.

Nonetheless, Monday proved to be quite fruitful for Cincinnati, as they picked up a game in the standings on both the Pirates and Cardinals, who both lost.

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