San Francisco Giants pitcher Johnny Cueto likely will not be able to pitcher until later in the season. However, he seems to be progressing well from Tommy John Surgery.
When the San Francisco Giants signed Cueto, there were concerns about his durability. Though, he had a relatively good track record, Cueto had expressed forearm and elbow discomfort throughout the years.
The issue worsened during the 2017 season when he was unable to finish a rehab start.
Cueto started the 2018 season strong, but lingering elbow discomfort continued to persist. After several poor starts, diminished fastball velocity, and continued elbow pain, Cueto elected to have Tommy John Surgery.
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His surgery took place at the beginning of August. The recovery period is between 12 and 18 months. However, it is becoming more common for pitchers to return closer to the 12-month mark.
The news regarding his rehab has been sparse. However, there are a couple of updates:
If Cueto follows the rehab schedule above, then he would return around 12 or 13 months following surgery. That would give him just enough time to make a few starts for the San Francisco Giants this season.
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Pitchers still need to build up arm strength and endurance even after making the return from Tommy John Surgery. So, it would not be surprising to see Cueto’s fastball velocity lower than usual in his first few starts. Also, he would likely only be allowed to pitch a handful of innings each start for load management purposes.
However, when a player returns from a significant injury like the one Cueto sustained, getting back to the major leagues is a huge milestone. Even a few starts could be huge for Cueto’s psyche and confidence as he heads in to the 2020 season.
Cueto seems to be using the rehab time to improve his physical conditioning as well:
In the video, Cueto looks like he has slimmed down considerably. Maintaining conditioning will be even more important as he enters the latter stages of his career.
Cueto does appear to be motivated to return to full-strength. When he was healthy, Cueto was one of the better pitchers in baseball. Though, he has gone through a few injury-marred seasons, he still has the ability to be an effective pitcher.
Either way, Cueto’s rehab progress is important and good for baseball. He plays with an infectious joy. Hopefully, Cueto gets to do a few shimmies on the mound before the end of this season.