Cueto officially activated; Villarreal optioned

Cueto officially activated; Villarreal optioned

Cueto officially activated; Villarreal optioned

CINCINNATI -- On Sunday morning, the Reds made Johnny Cueto's return from the disabled list official before he started the series finale against the Brewers. To make room for the Reds ace, the team optioned reliever Pedro Villarreal, who was up for one day, back to Triple-A Louisville.

Although Cueto, coming back from a strained right shoulder, said on Saturday that he wasn't aware of a pitch limit for Sunday, manager Dusty Baker said he wouldn't push the 27-year-old right-hander too far.

"Just hope he stays out of a big inning," Baker said of Cueto. "We hope that Johnny didn't lose much in his off-time. First time, he was kind of rough when he came back, but the second [game back], he was excellent. We just hope the layoff didn't hurt him too much."

When Cueto came off the disabled list for a strained right lat on May 20, he lasted five innings and gave up three runs against the Mets. In the next two games, he combined to surrender one run in 15 innings of work.

Tony Cingrani remained with the team and could come in for extended relief if Cueto falters early. Cingrani started seven games in Cueto's place, most recently allowing two runs on four hits in seven innings against the Cubs on Tuesday. Baker wasn't sure what the future holds for Cingrani, though.

"Everybody wants to know about tomorrow," Baker said. "Like I said, tomorrow will take care of itself."

Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.