Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto is expected to make his first rehab start on Friday since being placed on the disabled list. Cueto will start for Double-A Pensacola, reported first by beat writer John Fay.
Cueto is expected to throw 60 or 70 pitches Friday. The right-handed tossed a 45-pitch bullpen session without incident on Tuesday, causing Cincinnati to greenlight the start.
The starting pitcher was originally removed from his start on April 13 against the Pittsburgh Pirates with a strained lat muscle and has been sidelined since. The Reds ace had pitched well before the injury, as he owns a 2.60 ERA through his first 17.1 innings of the season.
Cincinnati recalled left-handed pitching prospect Tony Cingrani to replace Cueto in the rotation, and the team may need to keep the 23 year-old in the rotation. Cingrani has a sparking 1.50 ERA after three starts, and averaged 14 strikeouts per nine innings. Cingrani's next start will come on Saturday against the Chicago Cubs.
The Reds are 15-14 on the season, two games behind the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals. The Pirates and the Milwaukee Brewers are also above .500, making the NL Central one of the most balanced divisions through the first month of the season. The Reds will welcome Cueto back to help them put some distance between themselves and the rest of the division as they attempt to repeat as NL Central champs.