The San Francisco Giants have officially put right-hander Johnny Cueto on the 60-day disabled list after being placed on the 10-day disabled list with an elbow strain last week.
In a corresponding move on Thursday, the Giants purchased the contract of Triple-A right-hander Jose Valdez to take Cueto’s spot on the 40-man roster.
The move puts a firmer time frame on when San Francisco can expect Cueto’s return. After Cueto visited with Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla., during the first leg of the current three-city road trip, the club said it would take six to eight weeks for him to recover from elbow inflammation, which would not require surgery. Now, it looks like it will be closer to eight than six.
Cueto will not be eligible to return until June 28, two months after his last start. Giants ace Madison Bumgarner (pinky finger) is expected to throw off the mound for the first time this week, and would then start what would be a four- or five-game rehab assignment in the minor leagues within the next two weeks.
Without Bumgarner and Cueto, the San Francisco rotation has been overtaxed. Since Cueto went on the disabled list on May 1, starters have averaged fewer than six innings per game, while the bullpen has pitched 24 1/3 innings over the last eight games. Because of the heavy bullpen use, the Giants have kept a stream of relievers flowing back and forth between San Francisco and Triple-A Sacramento.
The latest transactions? Lefty Josh Osich was reinstated from the disabled list and sent to the River Cats, and immediately following Wednesday’s game, righty Derek Law –who threw 39 pitches — was optioned to Sacramento, as well. On Monday, after throwing 54 pitches in relief of Jeff Samardzija (who has, himself, struggled, going 1-2 with a 6.62 ERA this season), D.J. Snelton was also optioned to Sacramento.
As Bochy said last week, it’s likely that the Giants will continue to carry 13 pitchers, meaning they don’t have a spot for a fifth outfielder, even if Mac Williamson (concussion) and Hunter Pence (thumb) are activated on schedule.
Valdez, signed by the Giants to a minor league contract on Jan. 5, 2018, has appeared in 12 games with the River Cats this year, going 1-2 with a 3.71 ERA in 17 innings of work. He split the 2017 season between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and San Diego Padres organizations, making 14 big league relief appearances. He allowed 17 earned runs in 18 Major League innings.