Johnny Cueto drops 20 pounds, prepares for big step in rehab process


Johnny Cueto drops 20 pounds, prepares for big step in rehab process

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Even during rehab, perhaps especially during rehab, Johnny Cueto’s Instagram page is must-watch. 

Cueto, seemingly on a daily basis, would send a collection of clips showing the conditioning work that helped him drop 20 pounds. That cause was helped by a diet heavy on fish and salads, and Cueto showed those meals off, too. This week there was sadness, as Cueto sent out photos and videos of his beloved horse, Popeye, who died recently, either because of a stomach issue or because he ate a poisonous grasshopper. 

Perhaps the most important videos, though, were the ones featuring his van that looks straight out of “Pimp My Ride.” With the music blasting from its many speakers, Cueto would hold the camera up with a big smile on his face.

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Calentando la reina 👸

A post shared by Johnny Cueto (@johnnycueto47) on

Tommy John surgery can lead pitchers to the brink of depression, but Cueto kept perspective. He kept his joy, and on Thursday he looked at peace as he sat through his first interview of the spring. The big smile should be there in a week. That’s when Cueto will finally be cleared for a simple game of catch.

“Right now, I feel like I’m ready,” Cueto said. “But I know I’m not.”

This is a tedious process, but Cueto knows what the light at the end of the tunnel represents. He admitted Thursday that he pitched in partial pain for three years before having Tommy John surgery in August — one of those years, 2016, he started the All-Star Game — and at some point late this season, he could be back to 100 percent. The Giants have a soft target of Sept. 1 for Cueto to return to the big leagues, but he said he doesn’t have a goal in mind. 

“If that’s the case, I’ll be very happy,” he said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. “Whenever they tell me I’m ready, I’ll be ready.”

There’s a dream scenario where the Giants stay in the race, Cueto sails through a summer of rehab, pitches a few minor league games and gives the big league team a boost in September.

There’s the nightmare scenario where the team falls out early, trades big names at the deadline, and Cueto makes three September starts in a half-empty stadium just to get a head start on 2020. 

[RELATED: 2019 Giants Position Preview: Plenty of starting pitching depth, for now]

For now, the Giants aren’t focused on either. Cueto is going day by day, throwing plastic balls off a net and preparing for the day when he can step out on the grass, stand a few feet from a trainer, and toss a baseball a few times. It's coming fast. The rest will be decided over the course of a long season. 

“Sure, we’d love to see Johnny start. That would mean we’re probably sitting in a pretty good position,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “But we’re not going to do something that doesn’t make sense with the medical staff and where he’s at. Because you get through that and then you have another offseason to really heal up. We’ll see where he’s at when we get to August.”

Giants' Mauricio Dubon needs jersey number after Gabe Kapler took his

Giants' Mauricio Dubon needs jersey number after Gabe Kapler took his

Gabe Kapler had his introductory press conference as the Giants' new manager, and he's chosen his uniform number as well.

The skipper has chosen No. 19 to sport this season, which means young infielder Mauricio Dubon will have to choose a new number -- and he needs your help.

He recently took to Twitter and asked what number he should wear now that he has to make the switch: 

No. 21 appeared to stand out from a Milwaukee Brewer's fan account, since Honduras became a country in 1821. Dubon was born in Honduras in 1994 (sorry to make you guys feel old).

[RELATED: Dubon gets engaged at Disneyland Paris]

Five-time All-Star second baseman Jeff Kent also sported the number with San Francisco.

We shall see ... 

Giants continue Triples Alley construction, moving bullpens off field

Giants continue Triples Alley construction, moving bullpens off field

SAN FRANCISCO -- Gabe Kapler and Scott Harris both went through the same drill earlier this week, standing near the home dugout at Oracle Park as a team photographer grabbed shots from their first days on the job. Behind the two new members of the brain trust, construction workers continued the work that started last month.

The Giants plan to make an official announcement about the changing dimensions of their ballpark, and the new locations of the bullpen, soon, but those who attended the press conferences this week -- and a TopGolf event the park hosted last week -- got a sneak preview. 

A chunk of the bleacher seats in right center have already been ripped out to make room for the new bullpens, and some seats have also been taken out in left center to accommodate other changes to the ballpark. But team president and CEO Larry Baer said the changes won't be drastic for hitters. 

"Triples Alley will still be Triples Alley, just with some refinements," Baer said. 

The Giants are still figuring out some of the exact details, but they know the bullpens will be side-by-side in center and right center. The kale garden will remain, although it sounds like there will be some changes to the dimensions out there because the center-field wall is coming in about six feet, which should please hitters. 

The deepest part of the park -- the nemesis for Brandon Belt and other left-handed hitters -- is 421 feet and will ultimately be closer to 410 feet when the construction is done, the Giants think. The Giants put a bar underneath the new scoreboard last season and plan to have additional changes, including a terrace, out there this year, continuing a trend around the game -- seen across the bridge in Oakland -- of having more gathering spots for fans. 

[RELATED: What Kapler learned from Phillies tenure]

Even as they held two press conferences last week, the Giants remained coy about their exact plans for the dimensions, but they expect to take out about 400 seats.

Some of those may be made up for in other spots. There is a short wall separating the old bullpens from the first row of seats and about 80 feet of that wall has been taken down on both sides of the park, which would seem to indicate that the Giants are going to add some premium seating in some of that territory.