Notes: Cueto solid in debut; '54 WS hero passes

February 29th, 2020

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants had planned for to throw two innings in his Cactus League debut in a 9-6 win over the Rockies on Friday night at Scottsdale Stadium. But after needing only seven pitches to retire the side in the first inning, Cueto felt like he could go three frames.

The 34-year-old right-hander opened the split-squad game by striking out Raimel Tapia on four pitches, putting him away on a quick pitch that glanced off the knob of the leadoff hitter’s bat and into catcher ’s glove. Cueto then induced a pair of groundouts from Chris Owings and Daniel Murphy to cap his efficient inning.

Cueto had to work a little harder in the second inning, though he managed to keep the Rockies off the board to complete his two scoreless innings. A walk by Sam Hilliard and a double by Garrett Hampson put runners on second and third with one out, but the Giants played the infield in and got Yonathan Daza to tap a grounder to first baseman , who threw to the plate to nab Hilliard. Cueto, who topped out at 93 mph, retired Tony Wolters on a forceout to complete his 22-pitch outing.

It was a promising start for Cueto, who is entering his first full season since returning from Tommy John surgery in September 2018. With Madison Bumgarner now a member of the D-backs, the Giants will have a new Opening Day starter this year, and Cueto figures to be a leading candidate for the assignment, if he shows that he’s back at full strength this spring.

“My arm feels good,” Cueto said in Spanish. “I don’t feel any pain, thank God. It’s different now.”

The prospect of a healthy Cueto is certainly exciting for manager Gabe Kapler, who said he has been looking forward to working with Cueto since joining the Giants in November.

“I think we all get excited about the athleticism and the ability to control his body, put the ball where he wants to, in and out of the strike zone,” Kapler said. “He's demonstrated that already in his bullpen sessions. I think a lot of us saw him do that in live BP. His last one was really tremendous. As a fan of baseball, I'm excited to watch Johnny Cueto pitch. As manager of the Giants, I’m equally enthused about what he's done so far to get ready for this moment.”


Belt emerged as one of the standouts of Friday night’s game, reaching base three times on a double, a homer -- his first of the spring -- and a walk. 

“That was just a tremendous all-around game,” Kapler said. “Brandon has been really driven since the beginning of spring. He's put in a lot of hard work. He's demonstrated that he's really devoted to having a great season for us this year.”

Outfield prospect , who was called up from Minor League camp and started in right field, also impressed, going 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs. Ramos, 20, struck out on three straight curveballs in his first at-bat against Rockies right-hander Antonio Senzatela in the third, but he crushed a fastball from reliever Carlos Esteves in the sixth, driving it out to left-center field for a two-run homer.

Meanwhile, in Surprise …

The Giants beat the Royals, 3-1, in their first split-squad game on Friday at Surprise Stadium. served as the designated hitter and finished 2-for-3, while non-roster invitee hit a two-run homer and drove in all three of the Giants’ runs.

Right-hander and left-hander worked two scoreless innings apiece, with Suárez racking up four strikeouts against the Royals. Right-hander , who is ranked the Giants’ No. 6 prospect by MLB Pipeline, tossed a scoreless inning in his second appearance of the spring.

Antonelli passes away

Johnny Antonelli, an All-Star left-hander and World Series hero for the New York Giants, died Friday in his hometown of Rochester, N.Y. He was 89. Antonelli helped carry the Giants to a four-game sweep of the Indians in the 1954 World Series by tossing a complete game in Game 2 and converting a five-out save in Game 4 to secure the championship.

“The news today of the passing of Johnny Antonelli brings great sadness to our organization,” Giants president and CEO Larry Baer said in a statement. “Johnny was one of the all-time great Giants and was part of our rich history in the 1950s. He enjoyed visiting Oracle Park for alumni reunions and other events and I’m thankful for the laughs we shared over the years. Our condolences go out to the Antonelli family for their tremendous loss and we extend our thoughts to Johnny’s teammates, his friends, and to all those touched by his passing.”

On replay

Kapler said video-systems coordinators Yo Miyamoto and Patrick Yount will take over replay duties in 2020, replacing Shawon Dunston, who is no longer on the Major League coaching staff, but remains in the organization as a special assistant to player development.

“We're really confident in their ability to communicate efficiently with the dugout and help us make the right calls," Kapler said.

Up next

Left-hander will make his second start of the spring on Saturday when the Giants host the Angels at 12:05 p.m. PT at Scottsdale Stadium. He will be opposed by Los Angeles right-hander Dylan Bundy.