Yesterday when the Reds announced that Johnny Cueto has been diagnosed with a strained right oblique muscle they initially left open the possibility that he could start today’s Game 4 against the Giants.
That always seemed incredibly unlikely and sure enough just hours later manager Dusty Baker officially ruled out Cueto for the start. However, the actual Game 4 starter hasn’t been announced yet as the Reds decide between Mat Latos on short rest or Mike Leake, who could only be added to the roster if Cueto is removed (and thus made ineligible to return before the World Series).
Latos threw four innings and 57 pitches in relief of Cueto in Game 1 on Saturday, so perhaps the short rest would be canceled out by the lower than usual workload. Based on the usual recovery timetable for oblique injuries Cueto is unlikely to be ready for at least a couple weeks and if that’s the case they might as well make the move for Leake.
For now the Game 4 starter is listed as “TBA” and the first pitch is scheduled for 4:07 ET.
Pablo Sandoval could be tabbed to play second base in the near future, per a report from John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. According to Shea, Sandoval has been spotted taking grounders at second during pre-game warm-ups and may be considering switching to the keystone on a part-time basis.
It wouldn’t be the weirdest thing the 31-year-old corner infielder has done this year — that distinction goes to the flawless inning of relief he pitched in a blowout loss against the Dodgers last month. But it would represent a pretty notable departure from his comfort zone even so; Sandoval has primarily manned first and third base throughout his 11-year career in the majors and has also taken a few reps at DH during his resurgence with the Giants in 2018.
Of course, this wouldn’t necessarily be a permanent switch for Sandoval. As Shea points out, the Giants are thin on middle infielders after losing Joe Panik to a torn UCL in his left thumb and backup Alen Hanson to a left hamstring strain. Provided he can get up to speed quickly (no easy feat, according to infield coach Ron Wotus), he’d give the club some added depth behind Kelby Tomlinson and Miguel Gomez until Panik is ready to take the field again. Sandoval has impressed at the plate this spring, batting a healthy .270/.329/.429 with six extra-base hits and a .757 through 70 plate appearances.