Reds 'cautiously optimistic' Johnny Cueto could return in NLDS

Johnny Cueto left Game 1 of the NLDS against the Giants after just eight pitches. (Getty Imgaes)

CINCINNATI -- Reds starter Johnny Cueto was feeling better on Monday, Cincinnati general manager Walt Jocketty said, but the team still is unsure when he'll pitch again or who would be the Game 4 starter in the National League Division Series against the Giants, if necessary.

That "if necessary" phrase looms large, as the Reds hold a 2-0 lead heading into Tuesday's Game 3 at Great American Ball Park. Since the advent of the wild card, no National League team has lost a division series after winning the first two games in the best-of-5 series.

Cueto, the team's Game 1 starter, left his start on Saturday after just eight pitches because of back spasms. The team has since ruled out an oblique injury. The Reds moved Homer Bailey up one day in the rotation to start Game 3 in the spot originally slated for Mat Latos, who pitched four innings in relief of Cueto in Game 1.

Before the Reds defeated the Giants 9-0 behind Bronson Arroyo on Sunday, Cueto and Bailey flew back to Cincinnati so they could sleep at home instead of taking the overnight flight from San Francisco with the rest of the team.

Cueto was unavailable for comment after Monday's optional workout at Great American Ball Park, but he was in the clubhouse and seemingly had little trouble moving around.

"He was much better [Monday], and so we just have to wait to see how it is in another day or so," Jocketty said.

Jocketty said the team was "cautiously optimistic" he could pitch again in the series. Manager Dusty Baker had not yet spoken to Cueto or the team's trainers when he addressed the media.

Bailey said he and Cueto were able to watch the first two innings of Sunday's game on the flight from San Francisco before landing. From there, he returned to his Cincinnati home and watched the rest of the game from the comfort of his couch. Although strange to be away from the team, he noted it was nice to be able to watch from home and then go right to sleep.

"I didn't land at 7 a.m.; I was still sleeping," Bailey said. "So [Monday] I woke up back on regular time and I have one more whole day to kinda get back into it."

The Giants have yet to announce their Game 4 starter either, and could go with either Barry Zito or Game 1 starter Matt Cain. Ryan Vogelsong starts for San Francisco on Wednesday.

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