"I saw him before he went back. He said he felt a lot better this morning," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "He's going back to get treatment back there rather than flying all night with us."
The Reds media notes on Sunday listed Homer Bailey as a probable Game 3 starter on Tuesday at Great American Ball Park. Bailey was originally slated to start Game 4, if necessary. Reds manager Dusty Baker later confirmed Bailey would be his Game 3 starter, and not Cueto.
"Homer is our Game 3 option," Baker said. "You can't take a chance with Johnny, and we have to see exactly. We can't have him go out there again and have something else happen to him and come up short again. When he goes back out there we will make sure to the best of your knowledge that he's OK."
Bailey also flew back to Cincinnati on Sunday to get ready. If he did pitch on Tuesday, he would be working on his regular four days of rest.
In his last two starts, Bailey has worked 13 scoreless innings with only four hits allowed. On Sept. 28, he threw a no-hitter against the Pirates.
"He's on a pretty good roll," Baker said.
Cueto struck out first batter Angel Pagan Saturday night but felt his back spasm on a 0-1 pitch to second batter Marco Scutaro. At first, the club was worried that Cueto might have pulled an oblique muscle in his side.
"If it's a pitcher's oblique it will be on the opposite side," Jocketty said. "At first, we were thinking it might be in that area but it was on the right side and not the left side."
The Reds are hoping to avoid having to replace Cueto on the NLDS roster. By rules, if he is removed, he would not be eligible for the NL Championship Series should the Reds advance.
"You can't wait too long," Baker said. "If you wait too long and do it at the last minute, [Major League Baseball] might not OK it. That's what we were told yesterday. You can't wait until the last minute."
Cueto was replaced in Game 1 by Sam LeCure, who was followed by starting pitcher Mat Latos, working on three days rest. Latos pulled out a gutsy four-inning one-run performance to save Cincinnati's bullpen.
Baker and pitching coach Bryan Price were not sure if Latos could return for a possible Game 5, scheduled for Wednesday.
"We really haven't gotten that far," Baker said. "Bryan and I have to discuss it with Walt. We already pressed it last night on three days rest. We'd like to think that Johnny would be ready. If not, we'll do it like we've been doing it and adjusting."
Latos was asked if he would be ready for Game 4. Not surprisingly, he felt he could.
"If they need me to, Game 4 is a possibility," Latos said. "I'm young still, so it's not like I'm Bronson [Arroyo] where I have some miles on me. I'm able to -- I feel real good, so if need be and if I need to go Game 4, I will go Game 4."