GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Instead of facing Japan in the World Baseball Classic, Johnny Cueto pitched in the Cactus League on Monday. He made the most of it.
The right-hander threw five innings and allowed just a hit and a run, helping the San Francisco Giants beat the Chicago White Sox 3-2 in his third outing of the spring.
Cueto would have started for the Dominican Republic against Japan on Tuesday night if his home country had advanced to the WBC semifinals in Los Angeles. The Dominicans lost to the United States on Saturday night, though, leaving Cueto to wonder if his stuff Monday would have been enough in the international tournament.
“You can never tell, but I do know that I was going to go crazy out there and just pitch the way I always pitch,” Cueto said through an interpreter.
Cueto might have pitched for the Dominicans earlier in the tournament, but he arrived late in camp due to his father’s illness.
Earlier this year, Domingo Cueto had stroke-like symptoms and was hospitalized in the Dominican, but he accompanied his son to Arizona and now is feeling well enough that he was able to attend Monday’s game at Camelback Ranch.
With his father’s health improved and no international duties left, Cueto is focusing on his regular job helping lead the Giants rotation.
“That’s what I was working for, to get ready for the Classic. Now that it’s over, I just got to concentrate on what’s ahead,” he said.
“I’m just going to continue working the same way I’ve been doing, especially today, I was working with my sinker. I think I’m getting closer and closer. As I pitch more, I think I’m getting ready.”
Cueto was 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA in 32 starts during his first season with San Francisco. He certainly looked ready Monday. On a 91-degree day, he struck out three and didn’t walk anyone, though he did hit Avisail Garcia with a changeup. The only hit was a triple by Peter Bourjos, who later scored on Leury Garcia’s sacrifice fly.
“What a great job he did, mixing it up. He’s right on schedule,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Cueto. “He knows what he’s doing, he’s got a plan when he goes out there. He knows what he wants to work on.
“He’s got two more starts (before the season starts). It was hot out there and he gave us five innings of solid work. He’ll be ready.”
Giants left-hander Will Smith was pulled with elbow tightness during the eighth inning. Bochy said Smith had a similar issue in the same spot earlier in spring training and that he may get an MRI.
Smith was 2-4 with a 3.65 ERA with Milwaukee and San Francisco last season.
“We didn’t want to take any chances,” Bochy said. “It’s not good, but we’re hoping for the best news we can get.”
The Giants got all their runs on a homer by Ryder Jones in the eighth inning.
Reynaldo Lopez countered Cueto with six scoreless innings for Chicago, allowing two hits and striking out four.