Johnny Cueto could be ready to return to game action

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Johnny Cueto has been out since June 28 due to a recurrence of a lat strain, but he’s nearly ready to help the Reds as they attempt to maintain their lead for a Wild Card spot.

According to C. Trent Rosencrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Cueto threw another bullpen session this morning. The Reds will see how he feels Sunday before deciding the next step, but pitching coach Bryan Price indicated that he could be ready to pitch in a game.

“You have to get through all this stuff, everything’s been a process of execution and then follow-up, and the follow-up is seeing how he feels when he gets done, the following day,” Price said Saturday morning. “I think he’s real close. Pretty close is about as far as we can go with him before activation. ”

The Reds have yet to announce starters for Monday and Tuesday against the Astros, so Cueto would presumably slot in there if he feels good.

Cueto has been limited to just nine starts this season due to his nagging lat injury. He has served three different stints on the disabled list.

Marlins sign Sean Burnett to minor league deal

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Free agent reliever Sean Burnett signed a minor-league pact with the Marlins on Saturday. Per’s Joe Frisaro, the left-hander is slated to begin the season in extended spring training and will work toward a role in the majors.

Burnett, 35, has not appeared in full-time role in MLB since 2012. He last pitched for a big league team in 2016, surfacing for 5 2/3 innings with the Nationals before returning to the minors. Despite signing a minor-league deal with the Phillies last spring, he failed to make the Opening Day roster and was released prior to the start of the season.

Complicating Burnett’s return is a slew of chronic elbow issues. The left-hander has dealt with everything from bone spurs to a torn UCL over the last six years, and will need to take things slowly in the minors before the Marlins consider adding him to the bullpen this season.