UPDATE: Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that Cueto has been placed on the disabled list. He was set to be examined today, but there’s no word yet on the results. The Reds have recalled Logan Ondrusek from Triple-A Louisville in a corresponding roster move while Cingrani will replace Cueto in the starting rotation.
11:20 AM: Troubling development for the second-place Reds last night, as right-hander Johnny Cueto was forced to leave his start against the Rangers in the second inning after aggravating a right lat muscle injury.
Cueto, who has already had two stints on the disabled list this season, initially felt symptoms in the first inning. While he was cleared to stay in the game, he was seen grimacing on a 1-2 pitch to Mitch Moreland in the second inning and was immediately pulled after being visited by Reds manager Dusty Baker and head trainer Paul Lessard.
Baker told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com that Cueto will be sent back to Cincinnati for tests, but another stint on the disabled list appears likely.
“It was the same thing,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We’re going to send him back to see the doctor [in Cincinnati]. We’ll have to contemplate whatever the roster move is. We’ll tell you about it [Saturday].”
Cueto, 27, has a 3.21 ERA and 40/14 K/BB ratio in 47 2/3 innings over eight starts this season. Tony Cingrani figures to replace him in the starting rotation once again.
The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.
Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.
Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.