Johnny Cueto left his Game 1 start in the first inning with what was initially said to be back spasms, but the Reds have diagnosed him with a mild right oblique strain.
Not only do they remain undecided about removing Cueto from the playoff roster–which would make him ineligible to return before the World Series–the Reds still haven’t ruled out having him start Game 4 on Wednesday.
That seems awfully unlikely at the very least, but clearly the Reds want to avoid losing Cueto for a potential NLCS matchup if at all possible. And if they win tonight there won’t be a Game 4 and Cueto will have more time to rest.
“But if it’s unavoidable, then that’s something different,” manager Dusty Baker said, via Mark Sheldon of MLB.com “We’re weighing our options.” Baker also confirmed that if the Reds do remove Cueto from the NLDS roster Mike Leake would replace him.
Free agent middle infielder Danny Espinosa signed a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays, the team announced Saturday. The deal includes an invite to spring training, where Espinosa is scheduled for his first split-squad game against the Orioles this afternoon.
Espinosa, 30, was inked to another minor-league deal with the Yankees in January. The veteran infielder was competing for an infield job until the team picked up second baseman Neil Walker on a one-year, $4 million deal last Monday. Prior to his release, he slashed .160/.276/.320 with one home run through his first 12 games with the Yankees this spring. He didn’t fare much better in the majors last year, either, batting a cumulative .173/.245/.278 with six home runs and a .523 OPS in 295 PA for the Mariners and Rays.
Blue Jays starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is still dealing with a bone spur in his heel and has officially been ruled out for Opening Day, which could clear a path for Espinosa to claim a starting role in Toronto. Of course, he won’t be the only candidate under consideration — Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz are still in the mix as well, though no final decision appears to be made just yet.