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Cueto shut down with shoulder inflammation

Cueto shut down with shoulder inflammation

Cueto shut down with shoulder inflammation
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto was diagnosed on Monday with mild inflammation in his right shoulder after an examination in Cincinnati.

Cueto, who left his past two starts with stiffness in his biceps muscle, underwent MRI exams on his shoulder and elbow. Team medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek determined that Cueto's injury was not serious.

"Everything structurally is fine," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "The recommendation from Dr. Kremchek is to shut him down for a week or so and give it a chance to subside and get him back on a throwing program."

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Once Cueto begins throwing, Jocketty guessed it would be "at least a couple of weeks" before the right-hander could rejoin the rotation. Cueto will remain in Arizona when camp breaks to continue working out and get ready.

Although the Reds are downplaying Cueto's injury, Homer Bailey also had shoulder inflammation last season that was originally considered minor. Bailey wound up missing nearly three months. The Reds don't believe that Cueto will have to go all the way back to square one to come back healthy.

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"Not really," Jocketty said. "He was up to about 40 pitches so if he only takes a week off, it's not going to be that long to get back."

In four starts this spring, totaling nine innings, Cueto has a 6.00 ERA with two walks and five strikeouts.

Trouble first surfaced for the 25-year-old Cueto on March 11 during a start against the Rangers. He lasted only two of a scheduled four innings because he felt soreness in his biceps and forearm when he tried to throw breaking balls. The early exit was considered precautionary.

But eight days later, on Saturday vs. the Rockies, Cueto lasted just one inning when he was scheduled for three to four and 50-60 pitches. He felt stiffness in his biceps a couple of times and, despite wanting to continue, was halted from pitching.

After he went 12-7 with a 3.64 ERA in 31 starts last season, Cueto was signed to a four-year, $27 million contract over the winter. He came in expected once again to be Cincinnati's No. 3 starter.

That's temporarily on hold. With Cueto out, the Reds can rework their rotation without a great deal of upheaval. They had three pitchers -- Bailey, Travis Wood and Mike Leake -- vying for the final two spots, with Bailey and Wood appearing to have the edge coming down the stretch.

Now they all will be in the rotation.

"We have some depth in that area until Johnny gets back," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

Sam LeCure and Matt Maloney, starting pitchers who are vying to be in the bullpen, aren't going to get a shot at the rotation. Both remain alive for a spot on the roster, however.

With projected No. 2 starter Bronson Arroyo bothered by the flu and missing a start on Monday, the rotation was further adjusted.

Opening Day starter Edinson Volquez will be followed by Bailey and Arroyo. Wood and Leake will be the fourth or fifth starters in an order yet to be determined.

"We've just kind of reset it two or three times already," Baker said. "I'd hate to say it's set and then have to reset."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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