Reds being cautious by delaying Cueto's next start

Reds being cautious by delaying Cueto's next start

PITTSBURGH -- Both Reds manager Bryan Price and pitcher Johnny Cueto agreed that the ace could have faced the Pirates on Tuesday as originally scheduled. So why was the decision made to push Cueto back to Friday's series opener vs. the Mets?

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Price explained that he wanted to be conservative with Cueto, who missed a start last month because of right elbow stiffness.

"I just felt like from a fatigue and strength standpoint we could utilize the rainout [on Thursday] and the off-day [Monday] to get him a little bit of extra time," Price said before Tuesday's game. "He's not feeling like he has his maximum amount of strength, so we're just trying to build that up right now. It just makes sense for us right now."

Rookie Josh Smith made his big league debut vs. Pittsburgh in place of Cueto, who went along with the decision despite his not sounding thrilled about it.

"They told me and I can't change anything. I can't tell them to do things different," Cueto said through translator Tomas Vera. "I could have pitched today, but they're the ones who know."

Cueto is 4-4 with a 2.98 ERA in 13 starts and has a 2.84 ERA in the four starts he's made since he was skipped because of the elbow issue.

"Everything feels fine," Cueto said.

Price felt the club was doing what was right for Cueto by pushing him back.

"He had that little pocket of inflammation that has been an area where we've really tried to strengthen it when we skipped him after the Kansas City start and we haven't gotten ourselves all the way back to 100 percent," Price said. "It just seemed to make sense that we weren't going to be able to get him there without giving him a little time off, and time for treatment and his strength back up.

"He could pitch. He could have pitched today just like he had the other starts. I don't see another window without having to do something with the roster and send somebody out and start to juggle and do things we didn't want to do. We're just taking advantage of a few days off."

Other Reds news

• Smith took the roster spot of closer Aroldis Chapman, who went on paternity leave. Price expected to have Chapman back on Thursday. A replacement closer wasn't identified, but Price expected eighth-inning reliever J.J. Hoover to be the likely candidate.

"We started last year this way," Price said. "We didn't have a defined closer with Chappy out and [Jonathan] Broxton out that first week and a half. I think I used Hoover, and used [Manny] Parra. It's two days, we'll figure it out. Hopefully we'll score 10 each day."

• Rookie starting pitcher Raisel Iglesias (strained left oblique) and reliever Tony Cingrani (left shoulder injury) have resumed throwing programs. Iglesias could soon throw a bullpen session. Both pitchers will need to go on a rehab assignment in the Minors before returning.

"Without any setbacks, both will definitely be back before the All-Star break," Price said.

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.