Cueto caps Minor League outing with flourish

Giants righty looks sharp as he eases back to action after scare

Cueto caps Minor League outing with flourish

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- He rocked his torso in his familiar shoulder shimmy, mixed with a couple of quick pitches. Giants right-hander Johnny Cueto was clearly enjoying himself.

"That's how I pitch. I like to have fun," Cueto said Sunday after tuning up his arm for the regular season with a six-inning performance in a Minor League intrasquad game against Double-A farmhands at the Giants' Minor League complex. The Giants wanted Cueto to limber up his arm under controllable circumstances instead of the regular Major League exhibition game, in which San Francisco whipped Colorado, 10-4.

Cueto looked mostly sharp while facing the outclassed youngsters. He threw 50 strikes in 74 pitches while yielding one run and six hits, walking none and striking out four. He also picked off two baserunners. It was Cueto's first appearance since March 14, when he took a line drive off his forehead off the bat of Oakland's Billy Burns. Though that mishap occurred on Cueto's first pitch, he survived to last three innings.

Comebacker hits Cueto

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Cueto experienced another unnerving moment Sunday when he squared to bunt and was nearly hit by the ensuing pitch. He shrugged off the incident.

"You can't be afraid," Cueto said. "You have to be a man when you play baseball."

Cueto, San Francisco's projected No. 2 starter, reached 90 mph with a couple of fastballs and indicated that he'll throw harder when it counts.

"I was aware that I was leaving a couple of pitches up," he said. "But when they turn on the lights, when the season starts, everything will be different."

Worth noting

The Giants sent eight players Sunday to Minor League camp, trimming their Spring Training roster to 35.

None was a surprise, though one of them, right-hander Clayton Blackburn, looms large as somebody who could be summoned as soon as the Giants need help in the starting rotation.

Blackburn's RBI double

Blackburn, who led the Pacific Coast League with a 2.85 ERA last year while pitching for Triple-A Sacramento, recorded a 4.38 ERA in four Cactus League appearances. He surrendered three runs (two earned) and six hits in four innings Sunday.

Manager Bruce Bochy likes the rookie's savvy.

"He throws four pitches, and he has an idea of what he wants to do," Bochy said.

Blackburn was optioned to Sacramento, along with left-handers Ty Blach and Steven Okert. Reassigned to Minor League camp were right-hander Vin Mazzaro, left-hander Ricky Romero, outfielder Ryan Lollis, infielder Hak-Ju Lee and first baseman-outfielder Kyle Blanks.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.