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.

Report: Diamondbacks acquire Steven Souza from Rays in part of three-team deal

Tampa Bay Rays
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Update (6:35 PM ET): This is a three-team deal also involving the Diamondbacks, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Diamondbacks will receive outfielder Steven Souza from the Rays and second baseman Brandon Drury will head to the Yankees. Lefty reliever Anthony Banda will go to the Rays, Piecoro adds. The Diamondbacks will also receive prospect Taylor Widener from the Yankees, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

Souza, 28, is earning $3.55 million in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility, so the Rays are presumably saving money in moving him. Last season, Souza hit a productive .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBI, 78 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 617 plate appearances. Souza’s arrival almost certainly pushes Yasmany Tomas out of a starting gig.

Drury, 25, has played a handful of positions in his brief major league career. Last year, he played second base in Arizona, batting .267/.317/.447 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI in 480 PA.

Banda, 24, made his major league debut last season, posting an ugly 5.96 ERA with a 25/10 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings. The peripherals suggest he pitched better than his ERA indicated.

Widener, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. This past season with High-A Tampa, he pitched 119 1/3 innings and posted a 3.39 ERA with a 129/50 K/BB ratio. MLB Pipeline rated Widener as the 14th-best prospect in the Yankees’ system.

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Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports that the Rays will acquire second base prospect Nick Solak from the Yankees. The Yankees’ return is presently not known.

Solak, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2016 draft. He spent last season between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, hitting a combined .297/.384/.452 with 12 home runs, 53 RBI, 72 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases.

MLB Pipeline ranked Solak as the eighth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system and the fifth-best second base prospect in baseball, praising him for his ability to hit line drives as well as his speed.