With extra rest, Cueto ready to return to hill

Right-hander's Friday start vs. Mets will be first outing since June 17

With extra rest, Cueto ready to return to hill

PITTSBURGH -- Johnny Cueto will be pitching on eight days' rest -- double what he usually gets between starts -- when the Reds' ace faces the Mets on Friday. But the important takeaway for Cincinnati was that Cueto is good to go for the assignment at Citi Field.

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Because Cueto's bout with right elbow stiffness hasn't 100 percent cleared, Reds manager Bryan Price took a conservative approach. Cueto was pushed back from starting on Tuesday vs. the Pirates, as originally scheduled.

"Everything is on schedule. I'm hoping that there is some noticeable difference when he gets to his pregame," Price said on Thursday. "When he's in competition, there really haven't been any issues with fatigue and getting loose. More than anything, it's been the time inbetween his outings. We're trying to get him back to feeling normal inbetween starts."

Cueto last started on June 17 vs. the Tigers and got a no-decision after the Reds by an 8-4 score in 13 innings. He allowed three earned runs and three hits over 5 1/3 innings.

In 13 starts this season, Cueto is 4-4 with a 2.98 ERA. He has a 2.84 ERA in the four starts he's made since he was skipped from a start in late May because of the elbow stiffness.

"When he gets there and he's on the mound, I don't think anybody would notice anything being any different with his stuff or his command," Price said. "Once he's loose, he's good to go."

There has been an extra spotlight on Cueto when any news develops. Because he can be a free agent after this season, speculation has him as a primary candidate to get moved by the Reds before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline should the club go into seller's mode.

In 10 career starts vs. the Mets, Cueto is 3-3 with a 4.12 ERA. He is 2-1 with a 3.75 ERA in four starts at Citi Field.

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.