ORACLE PARK — Dia de Cueto is getting moved up.
San Francisco Giants right-handed pitcher Johnny Cueto felt so good after his Wednesday throwing session that, instead of making his second start back from Tommy John surgery on Tuesday in Boston, he’ll make it on Sunday in San Francisco against the Miami Marlins.
“He recovered so well,” said manager Bruce Bochy. “We had his pitch count down, and [based on] the way he recovered, pushed him back two days, but I think there’s no question that this is Johnny’s preference, too.”
Cueto, whose pitch count will remain at 70, will take the spot of second-year right-hander Dereck Rodriguez, at least for the moment. Rodriguez will move to the bullpen, and could swap starts with rookie Logan Webb the rest of the way as Cueto is integrated into the five-man rotation.
“We’ve talked to [Rodriguez], and he’s good with it,” Bochy said. “He just wants to pitch.”
Bochy posited that one of the reasons Cueto — who dropped 20 pounds during his rehab — was able to recover so well, both from the surgery and from his first outing back, is that he’s not a max-effort guy, throwing around 92 mph. He was able to return on the early end of typical 12-14-month Tommy John surgery recovery, because, as both Bochy and catcher Stephen Vogt said, Cueto is an artist — a control specialist, rather than a power arm — with all his dancing, shimmying and varied windups.
“The ability to change up his wind up and do the different shimmies and what have you and still execute the pitch, no matter what pitch you call, it’s that’s definitely special,” Vogt said on Tuesday.
Reliever Reyes Moronta — who underwent shoulder surgery on Tuesday — is very much a power arm, maxing out at 98 mph, so his recovery from a torn labrum will take nine to 11 months. Bochy said it’s likely to be closer to the 11 months than the nine.
Where there’s a Will there’s a way: Closer Will Smith will play catch on Friday as he works back from back tightness.
“I think that once that goes well, he’ll be on a pretty good pace to get back on the mound, and we could see him this weekend.”
Speaking obliquely: Alex Dickerson (right oblique) looks to be “turning a corner,” Bochy said. He took 40 swings on Wednesday in the batting cage, along with tee work. He was slated to do the same on Thursday. On Friday, the outfielder will swing off of a machine throwing breaking balls.
“That goes well, he’ll hit on the field,” Bochy said. “There’s a chance you could see him pinch hit or something this weekend.”
Jaylin the groove: Jaylin Davis came into Wednesday’s game just 2-for-15, and desptie hitting 35 home runs in the minor leagues this season, had hit just one fly ball for the Giants since being called up. Bochy joked before Wednesday’s game against the Pirates that maybe Davis should talk to Willie Mays, who went 1-for-26 when he was first called up in 1951 (though that one was a home run).
In the fifth inning, Davis shot a 2-1 single just inside the first base bag for an RBI single, and in the sixth, battled through eight pitches before finally striking out. He saw a total of 18 pitches in three plate appearances, 4.5 pitches per. That’s much higher than his season average of 3.43.
“He’s got pretty good discipline at the plate,” Bochy said. “I think it’s fair to say he was pressing a little bit. It’s human nature. You know, you want to get some hits when you first get called up, we all want to make a good impression, but big hit yesterday, going the other way.
“This guy can hit. He can hit righties. I think, overall, they’ve been decent at-bats. He’s just smothered a lot of balls, and it’s just a little bit of an adjustmenton his part.”
That hit could open the door for Davis, who the Giants consider their likely right fielder of the future.
“Especially knockingin that run, you know, that was an inning that could have won the game, and he was part of that,” Bochy said. “Hopefully, it does a lot for his confidence.”
Pablo recognized: Pablo Sandoval was the Giants’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, given annually to the player who most exemplifies the attitude of the Pirates great to community service.
“You know it takes a lot of pride and helping out the community and he his teammates have helped out and gotten involved in this too,” Bochy said. “That’s an honor it really is. You know, we always talking about the talent of these guys, but they’re good people. They do a lot of good things and Pablo, you know, he’s got a big heart and this means a lot to him, and means a lot to us.”
Sandoval was in the clubhouse on Wednesday, and plans to get his cast off soon, but because of a community service event on Thursday, he had to delay his return to Los Angeles to get it taken off.