Giants right-hander has struck balance between fitness, family
By Justin Wise
Ever since he made his debut with San Francisco on April 5 at Milwaukee, right-hander Johnny Cueto has had a unique appeal for Giants fans. It's easy to understand. He has dreadlocks that drape down to the numbers on his jersey. He flashes a contagious smile throughout games he pitches.
And most importantly, he is 13-1 with a 2.47 ERA midway through the season, with the National League West-leading Giants winning 16 of the 18 games he's started. On Tuesday night, Cueto was the NL starter in the All-Star Game in San Diego.
Cueto credits an old-school approach to his early success with the Giants, and expects that to help him survive the rigors of a 162-game season.
He doesn't have a flashy routine to prepare for the long baseball season. During the offseason, he enjoys relaxing with his family, swimming and horseback riding.
But Cueto, as his Giants teammates have observed, is noticeably dedicated to physical training.
"He's very serious about his job," said Albert Suarez, who has been a part of the Giants' starting rotation while Matt Cain is on the disabled list. "He knows how to take care of business."
That business includes running up and down the stadium steps of whichever ballpark he is at throughout the week. Doing has been a staple of Cueto's preparation -- ever since he entered the Majors with Cincinnati -- as a way to be physically and mentally ready for the grind that is a 162-game season.
He can be seen hours before games at AT&T Park-- with his children sometimes by his side -- running and jumping through the aisles in the stands.
"I knew it was important for me to run," said Cueto. "It's important because that helps me pitch longer in games."
It's been additionally important for him this year, considering his offseason was shorter than it has ever been. Cueto pitched deep into the Royals' march to a World Series championship in 2015, highlighted by a complete game in Kansas City's 7-1 win over the New York Mets in Fall Classic Game 2 on Oct. 28.
By the time his season ended, Spring Training seemed right around the corner. As a result, there was no extended pause on Cueto's conditioning. But, the nine-year veteran also notes the importance of balancing work with relaxation.
When he first began pitching with a windup that rotated almost 180 degrees, Cueto said it put a lot of stress on his knees. He's more used to the motion now, but admits how essential relaxing has become because it.
"I think right now what I would put as priority is to go to my house and be there with my family and my friends," said Cueto. "It's something that has developed. As I get to know the league more I have realized that is very important for me to relax."
Cueto hasn't relaxed much since joining the Giants for Spring Training, getting righ to work on returning to pitching shape. Throughout the Cactus League schedule, running dominated his workouts.
That work has seemingly paid off, as he's helped form one of the best pitching duos in the Majors this season -- alongside Giants ace Madison Bumgarner.
The efforts and results have been noticed, as Giants manager Bruce Bochy has been giving Cueto a considerable workload this season. And, most of the time, the righty has been up to the task. Giants fans have a workout regimen to thank.
Justin Wise is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.