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'Quite a possibility' Cueto headed for TJ surgery

Sandoval on shelf with hamstring strain; Panik, Tomlinson back with Giants
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SAN DIEGO -- Though Giants manager Bruce Bochy wouldn't confirm Monday that Johnny Cueto will need Tommy John elbow surgery, all evidence suggests that the right-hander will need the procedure.

For one thing, Cueto has been injured or ineffective through most of the season, indicating that conservative treatment won't work. Cueto's 3-2 with a 3.23 ERA in nine starts, but his stuff has been dull since he returned from two months on the disabled list with a right elbow sprain -- the same ailment that landed him on the DL on Monday.

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SAN DIEGO -- Though Giants manager Bruce Bochy wouldn't confirm Monday that Johnny Cueto will need Tommy John elbow surgery, all evidence suggests that the right-hander will need the procedure.

For one thing, Cueto has been injured or ineffective through most of the season, indicating that conservative treatment won't work. Cueto's 3-2 with a 3.23 ERA in nine starts, but his stuff has been dull since he returned from two months on the disabled list with a right elbow sprain -- the same ailment that landed him on the DL on Monday.

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Cueto was 3-0 with an 0.84 ERA and 16 hits allowed in 32 innings spanning five starts before he was sidelined the first time. He was 0-2, 6.86 with 30 hits allowed in 21 innings over four starts since his return.

Bochy all but admitted that Cueto will need to undergo Tommy John. Cueto underwent an MRI on Monday, but Bochy wouldn't divulge results of the test.

"Nothing definitive," Bochy said. "Obviously there's concern there with the elbow, but it's not something that's been determined yet. With that said, it's fair to say there's quite a possibility he'll have surgery. A possibility, yeah."

Cueto's prolonged discomfort also has suggested that he'll need more than extended rehabilitation.

"I guess you can say that [surgery is imminent] because it's been lingering quite awhile," Bochy said. "We got his elbow issue looked at. It's just not going away."

The Giants can be counted on to make sure that Cueto, 32, receives the best treatment. He's owed $21 million per year through 2021. The club holds a $22 million option on his services in 2022 with a $5 million buyout.

Bochy announced that Chris Stratton will replace Cueto in San Francisco's starting rotation. Stratton was 8-6 with a 4.93 ERA in 18 outings as a full-time starter before he was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento on July 7.

• The Giants placed Pablo Sandoval on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring. Sandoval injured himself as he slid home during Sunday's game. This is the first trip to the disabled list this year for Sandoval, who has a .248/.310/.417 slash line with nine home runs and 40 RBIs in 92 games.

To compensate for the subtraction of Sandoval and Cueto, the Giants activated second baseman Joe Panik from his Minor League injury rehabilitation assignment and recalled infielder Kelby Tomlinson. Panik was batting .240 in 54 games when he was sidelined. This is Tomlinson's fourth tour of duty with the Giants this season.

Jeff Samardzija, San Francisco's other injury-plagued right-hander, will throw off a bullpen mound Thursday at Phoenix.

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.

San Francisco Giants, Johnny Cueto, Joe Panik, Pablo Sandoval