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Giants optimistic Cueto will rebound

Longoria starts baseball activity; Slater may see time in infield
MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Johnny Cueto had allowed just three earned runs in his first 32 innings this season. In his first start off the disabled list Thursday, he allowed four earned runs in a 28-pitch first inning.

Cueto may have not looked like the ace who dazzled across five starts earlier this season, in which he posted a 0.84 ERA. But one laborious outing doesn't undermine Cueto's importance the rest of the season.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Johnny Cueto had allowed just three earned runs in his first 32 innings this season. In his first start off the disabled list Thursday, he allowed four earned runs in a 28-pitch first inning.

Cueto may have not looked like the ace who dazzled across five starts earlier this season, in which he posted a 0.84 ERA. But one laborious outing doesn't undermine Cueto's importance the rest of the season.

View Full Game Coverage

"I said last night, in the first inning he was trying to find his way there," manager Bruce Bochy said before Friday's game against the Cardinals. "That's what he'll have to change a little bit in his next start because as you know, the first inning counts and he gave up a crooked number there. But after that, I thought his stuff got better, and that was really encouraging."

Cueto scattered 10 hits across five innings and allowed five runs. He walked two and struck out two.

"I'm happy with what I did today and I have to continue working my way back to where I was," Cueto said Thursday. "It's not easy. But I just have to keep my head up and continue working."

The Giants are hoping Cueto can ease his way back into the rotation much like counterpart Madison Bumgarner, who didn't quite look like his dominant self in his first three starts off the DL. Then, Bumgarner snapped off a career-best 22-inning scoreless streak.

Speaking of Cueto, "he's a guy that helps head up this rotation along with Bum," Bochy said. "We were playing so well when he was on the mound, so it's great to have him back here. He's going to bring a lot of life to this club to just have him out there every fifth day."

Longoria beginning to work his way back
Evan Longoria is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The third baseman, who has been sidelined since June 14 with a fractured left pinkie, began participating in light baseball activity before Friday evening's game.

"A little grounders, he put a bat in his hand," Bochy said. "Really, it'll be the end of this weekend when you see him on the field and when we start ramping it up a little bit."

The Giants are looking at a return around the first week of August, according to Bochy.

Finding a spot for Slater
Bochy is determined to find a way to insert Austin Slater's bat in the lineup, which may give the rookie an opportunity to showcase his versatility.

Traditionally an outfielder in the Giants organization, Slater played some infield at Stanford and has gotten pregame work at second base.

"He could play three infield positions," Bochy said. "He's played first, he's got some work at second. He probably would tell you he's more comfortable at third."

Martin Oppegaard is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

San Francisco Giants, Johnny Cueto, Evan Longoria, Austin Slater