SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Johnny Cueto arrived in camp on Saturday, having tried to keep his priorities in order, from current concerns to the near future.Cueto reported nearly three weeks late after caring for his ailing father, but his tardiness means he will not pitch for the Dominican Republic in
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Johnny Cueto arrived in camp on Saturday, having tried to keep his priorities in order, from current concerns to the near future.
Cueto reported nearly three weeks late after caring for his ailing father, but his tardiness means he will not pitch for the Dominican Republic in the first round of the World Baseball Classic's first round, and he doesn't assume he'll participate later in the tournament.
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Cueto insists that he isn't distracted by the opt-out clause in his six-year, $130 million contract that allows him to re-enter free agency after this season if he chooses. Repeating his successful 2016 season with the Giants (18-5, 2.79 ERA) likely would earn him a considerable raise on the open market, but, he said, "To me, this is just a regular year. I signed for five [more] years, and I'm not thinking anything past that. It's just another year for me."
Cueto vows that he'll be ready for a full season, too.
"It wasn't like I was in the Dominican just sitting down not doing anything," he said, speaking through translator Erwin Higueros. "I was working really hard, because I knew that I was losing [training] time here."
Now that he's here, he won't be rushed.
"We're not going to pitch him in a game right away," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We're going to give him a few days to get acclimated."
During his absence, Cueto threw off bullpen mounds and pitched batting practice at the Giants' state-of-the-art academy for Latin American prospects at Boca Chica, D.R.
Meanwhile, he tended to his father, Domingo, who suffered what Cueto called a "pre-stroke" shortly before pitchers and catchers were due to report to camp on Feb. 13. Cueto said that his father experienced kidney problems and wasn't recognizing people or speaking clearly.
Cueto decided to bring his father to the U.S., but obtaining the proper documentation lengthened the delay. The elder Cueto also was hospitalized for 10 days.
"It was pretty serious," Cueto said of his father's illness. "Because I'm the head of the family, I felt that I needed to stay there just to make sure that nothing worse happened to him. I thought if I was to report [to camp] the day I was supposed to report and something did happen to my dad, then it would have been worse to go back, taking the distance into account."
Cueto discussed the matter with Bochy, general manager Bobby Evans and pitching coach Dave Righetti, who agreed that Cueto could stay in the Dominican Republic as long as he continued to work out.
• Third baseman Conor Gillaspie was scratched from Saturday's lineup with a sore right (throwing) arm. He appeared in four games without incident but told Bochy before the team bus departed that his arm felt "really achy."
• Bound for a stint on Team USA at the World Baseball Classic, catcher Buster Posey recorded his first spring hit on Saturday, a solid single to left field off Kansas City right-hander Jason Hammel.
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.