Reds hopeful that Johnny Cueto can start NLDS Game 3

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Reds ace Johnny Cueto was lifted from Saturday night’s NLDS Game 1 victory over the Giants after just eight pitches because of back spasms. He appeared to be experiencing a considerable amount of discomfort while he sauntered from the mound to the visitors dugout, but some positive early signs have given hope to the Cincinnati coaching staff.

Here’s Reds manager Dusty Baker, speaking late Saturday with Tom Groeschen of the Cincinnati Enquirer:

“I saw Johnny after the game and he said he was better. Whatever that means, because he was in quite a bit of pain out there. The fact that he said he’s better, and Johnny is usually pretty honest with us, that gives us a glimmer of hope that he might be back (for Game 3).”

“I really feel better,” Cueto confirmed to reporters later. “Right now doing normal activities, I feel good.”

Mat Latos was scheduled to start Game 3 but had to be used in relief on Saturday in San Francisco after Cueto made his early departure. Latos wound up throwing 57 pitches over four innings of one-run ball.

The Reds currently lead the five-game series 1-0. Game 2 is Sunday night. Game 3 is Tuesday.

Henderson Alvarez signs with Tigres de Quintana Roo

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Free agent right-hander Henderson Alvarez signed a deal with the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican Baseball League earlier this week, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Friday. The righty wasn’t necessarily too fringey a player to hack it in the big leagues, but there were no MLB takers in attendance during his showcase in Venezuela last month and he clearly felt it best to try his luck elsewhere.

The 27-year-old’s last major league gig came with the Phillies, for whom he delivered a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 BB/9 and 3.7 SO/9 over 14 2/3 innings in 2017. While he’s not too far removed from his first and only All-Star bid in 2014, he was besieged by shoulder issues in 2015 and 2016 and underwent season-ending surgeries as a result.

That added injury risk, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t pitched more than 22 innings in a single season since 2014, may have been too much for major league teams to take on this spring. Assuming he steers clear of further injuries, however, a return to the majors may not be entirely out of the question in years to come.