Johnny Cueto departs Game 1 of NLDS due to back spasms

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Brutal development for the Reds out in San Fran.

Staff ace Johnny Cueto was lifted from Saturday night’s NLDS Game 1 against the Giants just eight pitches in after appearing to tweak his side or back on a delivery to No. 2 hitter Marco Scutaro.

Cueto immediately hunched over after the toss and walked off the field alongside two trainers without making much of an argument. It’s safe to wonder whether he’s done for the rest of the postseason.

Sam LeCure, who posted a 3.14 ERA in 57 1/3 regular-season innings, took the mound in his place.

Cueto had a 2.78 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 170/49 K/BB ratio in 33 starts this year for the NL Central champs.

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UPDATE, 10:14 PM: Cueto has been diagnosed with back spasms and is merely listed as day-to-day. Considering how bad the situation looked initially, this seems like promising news for the Reds.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.