Joe Kelly watched as starting pitcher Johnny Cueto progressed to Triple-A Charlotte while Chicago White Sox reliever was on a rehab assignment.
He gave positive reviews.
“Johnny Cuto looked good,” Kelly said last week. “Johnny is a great dude. He impresses the hitters with timing, multiple looks, leg kicks, slide steps. Johnny does this to try to balance people and he’s a master at it. He’s all he needs to strike.” Was commanding the pitches.”
Cueto joined the Sox in Kansas City and began Monday’s game against the Royals at Kaufman Stadium after the team bought its contract from Charlotte.
“He’s had a really impressive career,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said before the game. “He pitches with some style. … We’ve gone against him (when La Russa managed the St. Louis Cardinals) and he gives it to you and he gives it to you and then vice versa.”
Cueto, 36, went 0-1 with a 5.17 ERA and four in 17 strikes four with Charlotte after signing with the Sox as a minor-league free agent on April 8.
“Street games weren’t his specialty,” Kelly said, “just because the umpires—I’m not going to say they weren’t up for Johnny, but when I saw him pitch with the automatic strike zone? PFFT. good luck. He could dot.
“Some umpires leave some way for his balls to move, and they move a ton. So when he’s flipping pitches and he’s striking in the strike zone, but the umpire thinks it’s run out, it can get him into trouble.
“But these guys are up here, the big league umpires, they know that. They know Johnny, they know how it goes. He looks great. He’s definitely going to help us out this year.” “
Cuoto is 135–97 with a 3.45 ERA in 330 appearances (329 starts) during a 14-year career with the Cincinnati Reds (2008–15), Royals (2015) and San Francisco Giants (2016–21).
The right-hander is a two-time All-Star (2014, 2016), finished second in National League Cy Young Award voting in 2014 and is 2-4 with a 4.54 ERA in eight career postseason starts. He made four starts in the 2015 postseason with the World Series champion Royals.
“I said hello to him and then I told him I still feel the effects of Game 5 in the 2015 (American League) Division Series,” Sox starter Dallas Keuchel said Monday. “He (Houston) made it great for us (when I was) with the Astros and they traded him to the Royals.”
Cueto conceded two runs on two hits and scored eight runs in that playoff game on 14 October 2015 in a 7–2 victory for the Royals.
“He’s one of the best to do this in over a decade,” Keschel said, “and it would be nice to see (our) side now.”
Cueto went 7-7 with a 4.08 ERA in 22 outings (21 starts) for the Giants in 2021.
Lucas Giolito was originally supposed to pitch on Monday, but was placed on the injured list related to the COVID-19 on Friday. Giolito began experiencing symptoms on Wednesday.
“The good part of this is that all the signs (Giolito) are watching,” La Russa said. “He will pitch in the series, be it (Tuesday) or make adjustments for Wednesday. That’s the good news. We’re going to wait and see.”
La Russa said Dylan Siege would start the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader. Game 2 is to be determined. Vince Velasquez and Keuchel are making potential Sox starts on Wednesday and Thursday.
That is expected to be a factor in Kyoto moving forward.
“We will be disappointed if he isn’t,” said La Russa. “And we don’t expect to disappoint. Since she reported to Arizona[for extended spring training]and what she showed in Charlotte[that]we expect her to be helpful.
In Monday’s same roster move, the Sox selected infielder Danny Mendick for Charlotte. Mendick is 5-for-23 (.217) with two doubles, one home run and three RBIs during two stages with the Sox this season.