SAN FRANCISCO -- A couple of weeks ago, with their rotation having multiple vacancies and Johnny Cueto sailing through bullpen sessions, the Giants briefly considered bringing him back early.
It was wishful thinking at the time, but some in the organization pictured Cueto throwing 60-70 pitches against big league hitters, going through his spring training at the sport's highest level. Cueto instead will make one more rehab start in Triple-A, but he likely is just days away from a return to the Giants.
Cueto threw 65 pitches for the River Cats on Monday, and Giants manager Bruce Bochy said the right-hander will start again Saturday. After that, Cueto is expected to rejoin the rotation, likely facing the Dodgers next weekend in Los Angeles.
"He's getting close," Bochy said Monday.
Cueto told reporters in Sacramento that he needs one more start. He has had two in the Arizona League, two for the San Jose Giants and now one with Sacramento.
Johnny Cueto said he feels he needs one more start. He says he can put his fastball where he wants and he likes where his command is at, but he wants to build up strength and to a higher pitch count before he returns to the Giants.— Kerry Crowley (@KO_Crowley) August 27, 2019
Cueto allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings, giving up two homers in his debut in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He gave up six hits but walked none while striking out three.
"The most important thing is he was healthy throughout the outing," Bochy said. "He'll be ready to go five days from now."
Bochy wouldn't commit to a firm timetable, but the Giants have had Cueto set for two in Sacramento all along. They'll evaluate him again Saturday, but that is almost certainly going to be the final step of a rehab process that has lasted more than a year.