The Giants-Athletics Cactus League exhibition game had just started and things immediately went downhill for starter Johnny Cueto. Billy Burns ripped his first pitch back up the middle, striking Cueto in the head. It appeared to be a glancing blow, and the right-hander stayed in after being attended to by team trainer Dave Groeschner. Burns stood on second base with a double.
The next batter, Mark Canha, hit a slow chopper between first base and the pitcher’s mound. Cueto couldn’t decide whether to commit to fielding the ball or to cover first base, so Canha ended up reaching safely. Josh Reddick promptly deposited a three-run home run over the fence in right field for a quick 3-0 lead.
Cueto was able to settle down from there, striking out Danny Valencia, then inducing consecutive ground outs from Stephen Vogt and Khris Davis.
It appears that Cueto will be fine, but not all head trauma presents immediately. The Giants will certainly have him go through concussion protocol after the game. Still, one wonders why they risked keeping him in what is really a meaningless game.
Veteran reliever Fernando Rodney has been designated for assignment, the Athletics announced Saturday. In a corresponding move, the club selected the contract of lefty reliever Wei-Chung Wang from Triple-A Las Vegas.
Rodney, 42, struggled to find his footing at the start of his second season with the A’s. He appeared in 17 games this spring, but harbored an unsightly 9.42 ERA during the span of just 14 1/3 innings, flanked by an equally disheartening 7.5 BB/9 against his 8.8 SO/9. While the right-hander isn’t far removed from his last productive campaign in the majors — as evidenced by the cumulative 3.36 ERA and 25 saves he delivered for the Twins and A’s in 2018 — the club evidently felt ready to take things in a different direction this season.
It’s still unclear whether this will mark the end of Rodney’s time in Major League Baseball; if so, he’ll finish a 17-year track in the majors with three All-Star designations, 908 career strikeouts, and 325 career saves (best among all active pitchers and 18th-best overall).
Without Rodney, the Athletics will look to former Brewers reliever Wang to bolster a bullpen that currently ranks fifth-best in the American League. The 27-year-old lefty hasn’t stepped on a major-league mound since 2017, but recently impressed in Triple-A after inking a minors contract with the team in February. He holds a 3.75 ERA, 2.3 BB/9, and 8.3 SO/9 through his first 24 innings with the organization.