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Cueto to undergo Tommy John surgery

Procedure expected to sideline Giants' No. 2 starter for approximately 1 year
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SAN FRANCISCO -- What has seemed inevitable became official Wednesday as the Giants announced right-hander Johnny Cueto will undergo Tommy John surgery Thursday in Los Angeles.

The procedure, which will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, is expected to sideline Cueto for approximately one year, likely rendering the Giants' No. 2 starter unavailable until late next season.

SAN FRANCISCO -- What has seemed inevitable became official Wednesday as the Giants announced right-hander Johnny Cueto will undergo Tommy John surgery Thursday in Los Angeles.

The procedure, which will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, is expected to sideline Cueto for approximately one year, likely rendering the Giants' No. 2 starter unavailable until late next season.

San Francisco closer Will Smith underwent Tommy John on March 30, 2017, and pitched in his first regular-season Major League game this year on May 2.

Giants general manager Bobby Evans pointed out that Cueto's diligent approach toward physical conditioning lifts hopes for a successful recovery. In recent years, many pitchers have returned from Tommy John surgery feeling as if they had a stronger arm.

"If there's anything we know about Johnny, it's that he's a hard worker," Evans said.

The Giants already have announced that Chris Stratton will replace Cueto in the 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.

Evans also indicated that San Francisco will continue to monitor the trade market for available starters. The Giants entered Wednesday five games behind first-place Arizona in the National League West standings. They begin a four-game series against the D-backs on Thursday.

Evans expressed confidence in the Giants' ability to continue to compete without the 32-year-old Cueto, a two-time All-Star who was 3-2 with a 3.23 ERA in nine starts this season.

"We've had guys step up all year," Evans said.

Rookies Andrew Suarez and Dereck Rodriguez, two of San Francisco's most reliable starters, began the season with Sacramento before ascending to the Majors to stabilize San Francisco's rotation.

Cueto, who owns a 125-85 record with a 3.33 ERA in 292 regular-season starts with the Reds, Royals and Giants, initially appeared headed for an outstanding season. He was 3-0 with an 0.84 ERA and 16 hits allowed in 32 innings spanning five starts before he went on the 10-day disabled list on May 1 with a right elbow sprain. Cueto then consulted renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews, who did not recommend the Tommy John procedure at that time. However, following a two-month absence, Cueto went 0-2, 6.86 with 30 hits allowed in 21 innings over four starts. He again went on the DL on Sunday with a right elbow sprain, explaining why Wednesday's announcement came as no surprise.

"Give Johnny credit for the commitment he made to fight through it," Evans said.

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