SAN DIEGO – Here’s a little slice of life for the Giants in 2017:
On the day they welcome Madison Bumgarner back to their rotation, they cleared roster space for him by putting Johnny Cueto on the disabled list.
Bumgarner will take the mound Saturday at Petco Park for his first major league start since the April 20 dirt bike accident that resulted in a separated pitching shoulder.
They hope that Cueto’s stint will be much shorter, but there’s no way to be certain. He has hot spots on his index and middle fingers, plus his thumb – issues that began in his final exhibition start and have bothered him off and on all season.
“It’s really bad,” Cueto said through Spanish interpreter Erwin Higueros. “I didn’t want to go to the DL. I want to help the team. But right now I feel I’m hurting the team. I can’t feel my pitches.
“I don’t feel like Johnny Cueto. I’m feeling sometimes like I’m a rookie. I don’t know where the ball is going.”
Cueto was pulled after throwing 82 pitches in four innings Friday night before the hot spots could form into blisters. He said he hoped that he would build up calluses while pitching through the issue in April and May.
“But they came back,” he said.
Cueto expounded a bit on what he said Friday night: a harder ball and higher seams likely are contributing to a blister issue that has affected an alarming number of pitchers throughout the league.
Cueto made it clear that the sensation in his fingers was due to friction with the baseball, and not numbness or tingling or any kind of nerve or circulatory issue that often can be a symptom of a more significant arm injury.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy also said that he is convinced by anecdotal evidence that the ball is a factor.
“Yeah, I think there is (a link),” Bochy said. “I think there’s enough evidence that they might be a little higher, the seams. Johnny, he’s pitched for a long time and for him to make a comment … and there’s times we’ve gripped a ball and there’s evidence the seams could be a little higher.
“They’re all different in how they grip the ball. Some (pitchers), it may affect and some it may not. (Santiago) Casilla last year had issues with blisters.”
Matt Cain, who had ceded his rotation spot to Bumgarner, will now take Cueto’s turn Wednesday against the Cleveland Indians, and then again July 24 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Cueto said he would not pick up a baseball for at least five days.
At most, he would start just one game prior to the July 31 trade deadline – significantly dimming the already remote chance that the Giants would find a deal that would sufficiently motivate them to move him. It’s also unlikely but theoretically possible that Cueto could be dealt in August, if he were to clear waivers.
Cueto said the DL stint doesn’t change his thoughts about being traded. He said it wasn’t in his mind either way.
“If they trade me, fine, but my whole mindset is I’ll be here to help the team,” he said.
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