Cueto misses start with elbow stiffness

Iglesias steps in to take on Tribe in series finale

Cueto misses start with elbow stiffness

CLEVELAND -- A rotation that has little room for bad news got some more when Reds ace Johnny Cueto did not make his start on Sunday vs. the Indians. Cueto reported feeling right elbow stiffness since his previous start on Tuesday vs. the Royals.

Raisel Iglesias stepped in for Cueto vs. Cleveland in the three-game series finale.

"I feel a normal soreness you usually feel. I feel tired. That's the bottom line," Cueto said through translator Tomas Vera. "First of all, I'm not worried about it. I'm using my head."

Manager Bryan Price noted that Cueto could have pitched, if needed. But the team wanted to exercise caution.

"He's had more than his usual elbow stiffness. He's done all the stuff with the training and medical staff," Price said. "I don't think it's anything anybody is concerned with. … I've asked a lot of Johnny. I've asked him to pitch and quite often pitch on turn and not always give him the extra day when we have an off day. … If he needs a little extra time, he's certainly earned it."

This is a pivotal year for Cueto, who is 3-4 with a 3.03 ERA in nine starts this season. A 20-game winner last season and National League Cy Young Award runner-up, he can be a free agent this fall and is expected to be one of the most prized pitchers on the open market.

In a 3-0 loss to Kansas City on Tuesday, Cueto gave up three earned runs and nine hits over seven innings.

"While I was pitching in Kansas City, I told them I was feeling a little stiff," Cueto said. "We did something and things went OK. Now I just want to take my time."

Cueto expected to miss one start.

"I may lose one outing, but I will just be ready for the next one when I feel good," Cueto said. "Bryan knows me. He knows I would do it. You know what? I don't feel 100 percent so there is no reason to pitch."

The Reds' rotation has struggled mightily the past week and entered Saturday with a 0-6 record and 11.57 ERA during a six-game losing streak.

Iglesias made his third Major League start and his first since throwing eight innings with just two hits allowed on May 13 vs. the Braves after being called up from Triple-A Louisville. He remained in the big leagues after the game, but was moved to the bullpen. He last pitched on Wednesday in relief with two runs and three hits allowed over one inning.

"We can plug Raisel in tomorrow and make sure Johnny has adequate rest before we put him back on the mound," Price said.

In four games, including two starts, Iglesias is 1-0 with a 3.94 ERA.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.