Cueto hopes to join WBC '17 if DR advances

Continuing to build arm strength, Giants righty throws 53 pitches in Minors exhibition

Cueto hopes to join WBC '17 if DR advances

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants right-hander Johnny Cueto still could pitch in the World Baseball Classic if the Dominican Republic advances to the tournament finals.

After facing a team of Arizona Diamondbacks farmhands in a Minor League exhibition game Wednesday, Cueto told a pool reporter that performing in the Classic remains a possibility if the Dominicans advance to the Championship Round in Los Angeles.

"If the third round comes around and they need me, then I'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Cueto said through interpreter Erwin Higueros.

Cueto could not join the Dominican team when the tournament began because he was still building arm strength. His arrival at Giants camp was stalled by delays in obtaining travel documentation for his father, Domingo. Cueto intended to provide optimum care for his father, who was ill, by bringing him to the United States.

Cueto pitched two innings against Cincinnati last Saturday, then worked 3 2/3 shutout innings Wednesday while yielding two hits and striking out three. He threw 53 pitches.

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"I know I need to pitch more," Cueto said. "I'm physically ready. My arm is not ready. They know if I don't go, they'll understand why. I would like to go. I know they'd like me to be there, but ... I'm sorry. I would like to represent my country."

The Dominican Republic dropped its first game in Pool F action to Puerto Rico, 3-1, on Tuesday. The Dominicans face Venezuela on Thursday (10 p.m. ET on MLB.TV and MLB Network) and wrap up pool play against the U.S. on Saturday. If D.R. finishes in the top two of Pool F, it will advance to the semifinals at Dodger Stadium on March 20-21.

Asked if he believed he was progressing toward his initial regular-season start, which likely will be April 4 at Arizona, Cueto said, "I'm a little bit off. I still need to pitch a little bit more. Today I was letting everything out, throwing all my pitches."

The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games in San Diego's Petco Park and the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. 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.