Reds still undecided on Cueto if there’s Game 4

Johnny Cueto’s bad back left the Cincinnati Reds unsure who

would start Game 4 if their playoff against the San Francisco

Giants goes that far.

The Reds’ 19-game winner had to leave the first inning of the

divisional series opener Saturday because of back spasms. Mat Latos

and the bullpen took over and pulled off a 5-2 win.

The Reds took the first two games in San Francisco, leaving them

one win from advancing to the NL championship series. They got

their first chance to do it Tuesday night at Great American Ball

Park, with Homer Bailey going against Ryan Vogelsong.

If San Francisco wins, manager Dusty Baker will have another

difficult choice. He said Tuesday it was unclear whether Cueto

would be able to throw.

If Cueto is hurt, the Reds have a few options. They could

replace him on the division series roster with right-hander Mike

Leake, who was left off. That would leave Cueto unavailable to

pitch during the league championship series if the Reds make it

that far.

”We’re seeing if we can avoid it because he wouldn’t be

available the next series,” Baker said. ”But if it’s unavoidable,

that’s something different. We’re weighing our options right

now.”

The other option is to lean on the bullpen again. They could

bring Latos back on short rest again, though that’s not an

appealing alternative.

Baker planned to meet with Cueto, team trainers, general manager

Walt Jocketty and pitching coach Bryan Price to make a decision

later in the day.

”We’ve got to talk about it, see how Johnny is,” Baker said.

”A lot of guys would be on less than full rest (if they use the

bullpen for Game 4). We hope we don’t have to talk about it at all.

But you know it’s going to be a tough game today. You’re taking the

last breath out of somebody.”

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