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Spring rebirth: Cueto's arm 'feels like a baby'

@mi_guardado
February 12, 2020

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Now that his recovery from Tommy John surgery is firmly in the rearview mirror, Johnny Cueto feels like his right arm has been reborn. “It feels like a baby,” Cueto said Wednesday after Giants pitchers and catchers completed their first workout of the spring at Scottsdale Stadium.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Now that his recovery from Tommy John surgery is firmly in the rearview mirror, Johnny Cueto feels like his right arm has been reborn.

“It feels like a baby,” Cueto said Wednesday after Giants pitchers and catchers completed their first workout of the spring at Scottsdale Stadium.

One year ago, Cueto’s arm remained in utero as he continued his arduous rehab from August 2018 elbow reconstructive surgery. But the 33-year-old veteran is feeling strong and healthy now after enjoying a normal offseason in his native Dominican Republic. He is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Thursday, giving him his first opportunity to pitch in front of manager Gabe Kapler and the club’s new cadre of pitching coaches.

“I feel normal,” Cueto said in Spanish. “Like nothing ever happened. Thank God, because I went through a lot with my arm.”

Cueto will enter the 2020 season with a bit more peace of mind after accomplishing his goal of returning to the Majors last September. He made four starts for the Giants, logging a 5.06 ERA over 16 innings, but he came away feeling optimistic about the health of his arm.

“I felt good at the beginning,” Cueto said. “But then again, you still have it in your head, the pain and how you felt before. It’s hard to forget, but thank God everything went well.”

The Giants will be leaning heavily on Cueto and fellow veteran Jeff Samardzija to lead a pitching staff filled with youth and uncertainty this season. They will also have a new Opening Day starter after losing Madison Bumgarner to the D-backs. A two-time All-Star, Cueto will likely be the frontrunner to fill the void if he’s healthy, though he knows the decision will be out of his hands.

“It’s whatever God decides, whatever the manager decides,” Cueto said. “Whoever gets the ball, good luck.”

Cahill arrives

Right-hander Trevor Cahill, who signed a Minor League deal with the Giants on Tuesday, reported to Scottsdale Stadium on Wednesday, reuniting with former 2010 A’s teammates Andrew Bailey, Tyson Ross and Jerry Blevins.

Kapler said the 31-year-old Cahill has the versatility to pitch out of the rotation or bullpen for the Giants, noting that he’s only a year removed from the 3.76 ERA he recorded for the A’s in 2018.

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.