ORACLE PARK — Johnny Cueto struck out five in two perfect innings Sunday in his first rehab start since undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery last August.
Over two frames with the AZL Giants of the Arizona Rookie League, Cueto threw 21 pitches, 19 of which were strikes. Cueto’s clean outing is a promising sign for the Giants – who could use his services in a stretch run once rosters expand on September 1 – but the right-hander will still require several more outings before he is ready to contribute at the big league level.
“He feels good,” said manager Bruce Bochy. “He was really excited about where he was.”
The return of the 2016 All-Star would be a major boon for a San Francisco squad that acquired second baseman Scooter Gennett at the trade deadline and is in the thick of the NL Wild Card race, 2 1/2 games back of the second spot. If Cueto were to return healthy, the Giants could roll out a three-man rotation of Madison Bumgarner, Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, a trio that could rival the best in the league.
Cueto has not pitched for the Giants since July 28 of last year when he gave up four runs in four innings.
… Conner Menez will make his second career major league start for the Giants on Tuesday, as he is slated to take the mound against the Washington Nationals’ Anibal Sanchez (6-6, 3.80 ERA).
In his first start against the New York Mets on July 21, Menez pitched five innings while allowing two runs on three hits and striking out six.
He has allowed five earned runs and punched out 13 in nine innings for Sacramento since and returned to the team Monday on the taxi squad.
… The Giants may have found an answer to their lack of production from second base with the acquisition of Gennett before the July 31 trade deadline.
The team plans to use Gennett as its everyday starter, while Joe Panik is relegated to a bench role.
“Scooter, he’s got some pop in the bat,” Bochy said. “He gives us a little more power so he’s going to be out there for the most part.”
Though Gennett is struggling this year, the former Cincinnati Red is coming off a 2018 All-Star season in which he slashed .310/.347/.490 and hit 23 home runs with 92 RBIs.
… Alex Dickerson is progressing in his rehab from a right oblique strain that landed him on the 10-day injured list on August 1, resuming baseball activities on Monday.
Bochy maintained that the outfielder will likely use the full 10 days to recover from the setback and that the Giants will not push him to return sooner.
… The Giants claimed right-handed pitcher Ryan Dull, previously of the Oakland Athletics, off waivers.
Dull has gone 1-4 with a 5.45 ERA in 30 appearances for the Oakland Triple-A affiliate Las Vegas Aviators, while only pitching nine innings for the A’s with a 12.00 ERA in 2019.
He will report to Triple-A Sacramento on Monday.