Ace right-hander won't start in the two-game Interleague series
By Mark Sheldon and Robert Bondy
MLB.com |@m_sheldon |
CINCINNATI -- A little over three weeks ago when he was traded by the Reds to the Royals on July 26, ace Johnny Cueto had to say goodbye to the only team he ever played for. On Tuesday, Cueto was given the chance to say hello again and show his appreciation when his new team arrived for a two-game Interleague series.
After making 213 career starts over eight years with the Reds, Cueto returned to Great American Ball Park on Tuesday. During a press conference, he acknowledged it felt weird entering the visitors clubhouse when arriving to the ballpark, making his return to the Queen City emotional.
After the top of the first inning, the Reds showed Cueto on the video board and thanked him for his years in Cincinnati. Fans gave him a standing ovation and players in the Reds' dugout were also clapping with appreciation.
"I feel a little timid," Cueto said through translator and Royals catching coach Pedro Grifol. "It is emotional coming over here and not being with Jay Bruce and some of the guys I came up with."
Cueto went 92-63 with a 3.21 ERA during his time with Cincinnati, but had become one of the game's best pitchers over the last four years. Since the beginning of 2012, Cueto was 51-26 with a 2.55 ERA in 97 starts for the Reds.
The Reds had the benefit of getting to see Cueto while he's in town, but of not having to face him in a game. He pitched eight innings on Saturday vs. the Angels and isn't scheduled to work again until Friday against the Red Sox.
"Better that way for sure," Reds manager Bryan Price said.
Cueto is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA in four starts since joining Kansas City after being dealt for left-handed prospects Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed. Price was pleased that Cueto was having success with his new club.
"You always that to be a win-win situation," Price said. "I think that they're starting to see the best of Johnny the last couple of times out, certainly the complete game. To follow that up with another win is nice because they were getting one of the best starting pitchers in the game, I thought, when they made that trade."
Cueto was hoping he'd get the chance to pitch against his former club, stating he went to Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland about moving up his next start to Wednesday against the Reds. Despite Cueto's plea not coming true, he still is excited about being back and expected a warm welcome from the fans.
"I think so because the fans really supported me here throughout my years and I gave the Reds and the fans everything I had for my time here," Cueto said. "I also feel like the players on the other club are going to give me a warm reception as well because I've got really good friends over there."
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. Robert Bondy is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.