Cueto plays catch, has chance to start Sunday

Reds set rotation through Saturday, to evaluate ace's elbow as he progresses this week

Cueto plays catch, has chance to start Sunday

CINCINNATI -- Reds ace Johnny Cueto tested his right elbow by playing catch on Wednesday morning, while the club seems to be holding a spot for him to start this weekend.

For the three-game series vs. the Nationals, the Reds will start Anthony DeSclafani on Friday and Raisel Iglesias on Saturday. Sunday's starting assignment is currently listed as "TBA." There is a chance Cueto could get that start, manager Bryan Price said.

"We'll make a decision on Sunday as we move forward," Price said. "We're waiting on Cueto, and Jason [Marquis] is a little banged up. It's nothing he can't pitch with, but he's banged up as well."

During batting practice, Cueto played catch in right field for about 20 minutes and stretched out to distances of up to 100 feet. He missed his previous start on Sunday with right elbow stiffness and underwent an MRI on Tuesday that showed no structural damage.

"He felt fine. He threw comfortably," Reds head trainer Paul Lessard said. "He's still a little sore from the MRI injection, but other than that, he felt very good. He wasn't really holding back and was throwing pretty firm."

If Cueto's arm has no ill-effects from playing catch, he will throw again on Thursday during the team's off-day. After that, he could throw a bullpen session on Friday.

"He typically throws [in the bullpen] two days before a start. So if he were to start on Sunday, he would throw a bullpen on Friday," Price said. "He would have to get through the bullpen and see how he felt on Saturday before we consider Sunday as an option."

Worth noting

• Second baseman Brandon Phillips was not in the lineup for a second straight game because of turf toe on his left foot. Skip Schumaker started at second base vs. the Rockies.

"With the day off, too [Thursday] ... it's three consecutive days off to let that toe cool off a little bit," Price said. "My concern is it being kind of a nagging thing throughout the course of the season. I'd like to be able to get over the hump with the injury. A three-day rest might make more difference than a one day rest and give it a chance to where he's feeling really good by Friday."

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.