Back tightness is not an ailment you want to hear from a pitcher coming off major surgery, particularly after throwing around 30 pitches in a bullpen session. But as concerning as the news was to the Giants that Johnny Cueto had suffered a setback in his ongoing rehab from Tommy John surgery, he doesn't seem to be too worried about it.
In fact, he still hopes to pitch this season.
"It feels like air in the back, a little discomfort," Cueto told the San Francisco Chronicle's John Shea through translator Erwin Higueros. "I hope it's something that'll go away, and I'll be ready."
The initial plan was for Cueto to start a game during the upcoming series at Dodger Stadium, but with the setback at Tuesday's bullpen session, that's been pushed down the line. Cueto will likely try to pitch another bullpen session while in Los Angeles, and then could potentially make a start during next week's homestand, assuming all goes well.
As for how much pressure Cueto is placing on himself to get back to the majors this season in order to build confidence and momentum towards 2020, he doesn't see the point in rushing it.
"I really don't think about it," Cueto confessed. "I just go day by day, and I need to do what I need to do. I have to be smart and realize I have two more years with the Giants, so I will do what they tell me to do."
Cueto is owed $21 million over each of the next two seasons. Given the current standings and Cueto's remaining salary, the patient approach sure seems to be the wise choice.