SAN DIEGO — When hot spots appeared on three of the fingers on Johnny Cueto’s right hand Friday night, the coaching staff pulled him from the game. They also just about pulled Cueto from the trade market.
Cueto dealt with blisters on two of his fingers earlier this season and in his first start of the second half they returned, along with a new blister on his thumb. He pushed to stay in the rotation and pitch through his early-season discomfort, but this time around, Cueto acknowledged that he has to approach the blisters differently.
“Of course I feel different now,” he said though interpreter Erwin Higueros. “I think the best thing to do is to take some time off. I’m not throwing very well and I don’t want to hurt myself.”
Asked if he would definitely miss his next start, Cueto shrugged.
“I can’t tell you whether I’m going to skip it,” he said, “But right now I feel bad.”
Cueto had three fingers wrapped on his pitching hand. He was pulled after four innings and just 82 pitches in a 5-4 win over the Padres. For the Giants, the timing couldn’t be worse. Cueto finished the first half with a 4.51 ERA, but he was healthy, and he still could have rebuilt his trade value before the July 31 deadline. Now, it’s not even clear if Cueto will start again before that date.
“I know he’s frustrated with it,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Hopefully he can take his next (bullpen session). If we have to skip him, we’ll skip him.”
The Giants were already having trouble getting any traction with a pitcher who has had a down year and holds a complicated contract with an opt-out clause at the end of the year. With 17 days until the deadline, three blisters, and an ERA that ballooned to 4.59, it seems like the decision has been made for them.
Cueto displayed frustration, and he echoed others around the game in saying the baseball might be to blame. Cueto said it’s clear to him that the ball is “tighter” this season.
“I think the ball is different,” he said. “I think so, probably. This is the first time I’ve had blisters in my career.”