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.

Giants sign Austin Jackson to two-year, $6 million contract

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The Giants announced on Monday night the signing of outfielder Austin Jackson. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, it’s a two-year, $6 million deal with performance incentives that allow Jackson to earn up to an additional $2.5 million for a total of $8.5 million.

Jackson, who soon turns 31 years old, spent last season with the Indians. In 318 plate appearances, he hit .318/.387/.482 with seven home runs, 35 RBI, and 46 runs scored.

The Giants have been on the hunt for a center fielder and Jackson addresses that need relatively cheaply. Jackson will join Hunter Pence and newcomer Andrew McCutchen in the outfield.