Johnny Cueto throws batting practice, nears sim game

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Johnny Cueto took another step in his recovery from a strained lat muscle yesterday, throwing 30 pitches of live batting practice to Reds teammates.

Jeremy Warnemuende of reports that a simulated game is next on the schedule, at which point Cueto could be cleared to return. And there’s been speculation that the Reds will bring him back as a reliever, with Tim Lincecum’s playoff run for the Giants last season serving as the optimistic model.

Cueto has started just nine games this season in between disabled list stints and all 158 of his big-league appearances have come as a starter.

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.