Gi­ants’ Cueto starts camp ‘stronger than nor­mal’

The Washington Post Sunday - - SCOREBOARD - SPRING TRAIN­ING NOTES

Even though he just got to spring train­ing, San Fran­cisco pitcher Johnny Cueto says he’s prob­a­bly ahead of where he nor­mally is in pre­par­ing for the sea­son.

“It wasn’t like I was in the Do­mini­can just sit­ting down. I was work­ing re­ally hard be­cause I knew I was miss­ing time. Maybe a lit­tle stronger than nor­mal,” Cueto said Satur­day at Scotts­dale (Ariz.) Sta­dium in his first full day at camp.

The 31-year-old all-star said he was work­ing out at the Gi­ants’ academy in the Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic. He was given per­mis­sion by the team to ar­rive later be­cause he was help­ing his ail­ing fa­ther, Domingo, who was in the hospi­tal for 10 days ear­lier this year af­ter suf­fer­ing what Cueto de­scribed Satur­day as “pre­stroke” symp­toms.

“He had some prob­lems with his kid­neys, some­thing wrong with his head,” Cueto said through an in­ter­preter. “He was just not right. He was not rec­og­niz­ing any­body. He is bet­ter now.

“Be­cause I am the head of the fam­ily, I felt that I needed to stay there just to make sure that noth­ing worse hap­pened to him. I thought if I was to re­port and some­thing did hap­pen to my dad, that it would have been worse to go back since tak­ing in ac­count the dis­tance. I talked to the GM, man­ager, pitch­ing coach and got their bless­ing to go ahead and stay be­hind and take care of my fam­ily as long as I did my work­out at the academy.”

Cueto and his fa­ther ar­rived Fri­day in Ari­zona, and now the pitcher just has to get into his rou­tine. He took things more slowly a year ago af­ter help­ing the Kansas City Roy­als to vic­tory in the 2015 World Se­ries, but this time he said he’s nearly ready to go and is just wait­ing to see where he fits into the Gi­ants’ spring plans.

“I’m happy to be here. I feel good, but I think I need time to ad­just to the guys here,” he said.

Gi­ants Man­ager Bruce Bochy was also glad to see Cueto, who went 18-5 last year.

“He looked good,” Bochy said Satur­day. “We’ll see where he’s at to­mor­row and give him a few days to get ac­cli­mated.” . . .

In other Gi­ants news, coach Jose Al­guacil needed surgery to re­pair a bro­ken nose af­ter be­ing hit by a foul ball dur­ing a spring train­ing game in Surprise, Ariz.

Al­guacil was hit in the face and fell to the ground. He was sit­ting in a fold­ing chair out­side the dugout, and Bochy said the Gi­ants’ new first base coach said he felt fine af­ter the ac­ci­dent.

The Gi­ants said Al­guacil had surgery to ad­dress the nose and a “deep lac­er­a­tion.” He also has small frac­tures in his eye socket.

METS: Mo­ments af­ter Ja­cob deGrom blew a first-in­ning fast­ball by Josh Red­dick for a strike­out, he cir­cled the mound and caught a glimpse of the radar read­ing on the score­board: 97 mph.

“Def­i­nitely a good feel­ing,” deGrom said.

Mak­ing his first start since Septem­ber’s surgery to re­po­si­tion the ul­nar nerve in his right el­bow, deGrom worked two per­fect in­nings in West Palm Beach, Fla., for New York, strik­ing out two in a 3-1 win over Hous­ton.

ASTROS: Right-han­der Lance McCullers felt strong fol­low­ing a sim­u­lated game in West Palm Beach, Fla. His next stop could be a Grape­fruit League mound, maybe as early as next week.

McCullers has been on a tai­lored throw­ing pro­gram this spring as he works his way back from an el­bow strain that short­ened his 2016 sea­son.

He threw 43 pitches to catcher Evan Gat­tis on a back field in an out­ing that sim­u­lated three in­nings, show­cas­ing a fast­ball that touched 95 mph.

“It went well,” McCullers said. “I’m feel­ing good. I’m feel­ing bet­ter and bet­ter ev­ery time I go out as far as my abil­ity to make pitches.”

TIGERS: Closer Fran­cisco Ro­driguez had con­trol trou­ble in his only game ac­tion be­fore leav­ing to join Venezuela for the World Base­ball Clas­sic, walk­ing two in a brief stint.

Ro­driguez had been sched­uled to take the mound Wed­nes­day, but the out­ing was pushed back be­cause of ham­string tight­ness. In­stead, he re­lieved in the fifth in­ning in Lakeland, Fla., against the New York Yan­kees and ex­ited with the bases loaded and two outs.

“Over­all, I feel great,” Ro­driguez said. “My body feels great. Threw the pitches I nor­mally do dur­ing the sea­son, which is what I care about.”

CUBS: Man­ager Joe Mad­don, An­thony Rizzo, Ben Zo­brist and Kyle Sch­war­ber were among a group that shaved their heads in the an­nual Re­spect Bald event to ben­e­fit can­cer re­search.

Kris Bryant hit a grand slam in a 9-3 win over the Los An­ge­les Dodgers in Mesa, Ariz., and Kyle Hendricks pitched two score­less in­nings.

JEFF CHIU/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Johnny Cueto re­turns af­ter go­ing 18-5. He was given per­mis­sion to ar­rive late to Gi­ants camp be­cause he was help­ing his ail­ing fa­ther.

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