The right-hander struck out four and walked one in five shutout innings, leading the Giants over the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates 5-4 on Tuesday night.
He was relieved by Kyle Barraclough in the sixth after throwing 69 pitches.
“Like it was Opening Day,” Cueto said.
Cueto, 33, was 3-2 with a 3.23 ERA in nine starts last season before he was shut down. He is in the fourth year of a six-year, $130 million contract.
“That was a special night for Johnny, just so much hard work and coming back from so much,” said Stephen Vogt, who caught Cueto’s comeback outing. “Getting to be a small part of that with him was pretty special for me. It’s been a long road for him to come back. He was just so happy today — before the game, during the game, after the game you could just tell he was having fun.”
Cueto went 1-2-3 in the first on 11 pitches with a strikeout and two groundouts before turning his cap around just for fun and pumping his fists.
He punched his hand into his glove in celebration, chomping his gum all the while.
“That’s my game, every time I pitch just try to have fun,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Fantasy baseball – Everything old is new again
I’ve got nothing against Luis Robert, Gavin Lux, Jo Adell or any other top prospect on the verge of blossoming onto the big-league baseball scene in 2020. Perhaps it is simply assumed they will be fine but Minnesota Twins DH Nelson Cruz actually hit 41 home runs in 2019. OK, everyone homered a lot, but Cruz also hit .311 with a career-best 1.031 OPS (fourth in baseball). Yet, there is no shortage of high-profile young hitters going ahead of Cruz in most drafts (Gleyber Torres and Yoan Moncada among them) all of whom he bested on the final 2019 Player Rater.
Cubs, Giants to raise minor league pay early
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer and Giants baseball executive Farhan Zaidi confirmed the wage hikes Tuesday.
MLB informed teams on Friday that it would be raising minimum salaries for minor leaguers in 2021, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press. Those increases, ranging from 38% to 72% depending on the level, mean players will earn between $4,800 in rookie ball to $14,000 at Triple-A.
Hoyer said the Cubs’ pay bumps will take effect this season and will mirror those made by the Blue Jays in 2019, when Toronto became the first club to boost pay by giving all minor leaguers 50% raises. Hoyer said the idea was pushed by the Ricketts family, which owns the franchise.
“They obviously had read about all the teams talking about changing it,” Hoyer said. “They read about the Blue Jays and they’re like, ‘We need to do this.’ We put a tremendous emphasis on player development. We put a tremendous emphasis on our minor league talent, and the Ricketts family were pretty adamant that we treat them as well as anybody.
“So that’s the move we’re going to make, and we’re proud to do it. I’m really happy and proud that they wanted to do it and they just sort of took it on as kind of an ownership project, which is great.”
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Giants’ pay bumps will be slightly more aggressive than the MLB-mandated minimums, with Triple-A players earning $15,000 for the five-month season. By comparison, the major league minimum is $563,500 this year, and the top players make over $30 million annually.
A group of minor leaguers filed a lawsuit against major league teams in February 2014 claiming their meager salaries violated minimum wage laws. While the case has not yet gone to trial, Congress passed legislation in 2018 stripping minor league players from protection under federal minimum wage laws.
San Francisco, which already had a reputation among minor leaguers as being relatively player-friendly after eliminating clubhouse dues and providing nutritious food, is also giving players a hand with housing. Rookie-ball, short-season and low-Class A players will be provided free housing. Class A Advanced players will be placed with host families, and Double-A and Triple-A players will be given $500 housing allowances each month.
Zaidi, entering his second season as president of baseball operations with the Giants, said the club would take feedback from players and could make further adjustments in 2021.
“There was really some momentum behind it before I came into the organization, but just from a personal standpoint, I’m excited that we were able to do it,” he said. “I think that it does a lot of good for the organization. I think it’s the right thing to do, and we’re kind of looking forward to having it in place.
“It’s a quality of life issue,” he added. “It’s a convenience issue. It’s a time issue, and just getting a better sense of all that, something we’ll continue to evaluate.”
MLB’s mandated raises come as the league is negotiating with the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the governing body of the minors, to replace the Professional Baseball Agreement that expires after the 2020 seasons. MLB proposed cutting 42 of the 160 required affiliated teams during those negotiations, a plan criticized by small-town fans and politicians at the local and national level.
MLB also has sought assistance from minor league teams in paying salaries and for facility upgrades in those negotiations.
Rockies GM Jeff Bridich says he’s yet to sit down with Nolan Arenado
Bridich displayed no worries about his relationship with his best player Tuesday night when he spoke at the Cactus League media day.
The executive says he’ll have a conversation at some point with Arenado, who recently said he felt “disrespect” from Bridich and disappointment in the Rockies’ direction.
“Today was Day Two, (and) yesterday was Day One with him in camp,” Bridich said. “We’ve seen each other. We haven’t sat yet, but I trust that we will. He’s just like all the other players. We’ll find time to sit down and interact, both with myself and others, so I trust we’ll find the right time for that.”
Arenado and the Rockies are one week shy of the anniversary of the five-time All-Star’s agreement on an eight-year, $260 million contract extension with his only big league club. The three-time NL homers leader’s relationship with the Rockies has undeniably deteriorated in the ensuing months, with Arenado being frustrated by hearing his name in trade rumors and by Colorado’s relatively inactive winter.
Bridich publicly believes he can smooth over any differences with his most important player and asset.
“I think it’s a natural part of being a team and competing as a group from year to year,” Bridich said. “You try to be on the same page as much as you can, and that takes a conversation. It takes time, and sometimes there are natural disagreements or there is miscommunication over time, and so you continue to work to right the ship.”
Bridich didn’t acknowledge he’s got to do any repair work with Arenado, and the GM remains confident in Arenado’s professionalism. He doesn’t expect any on-field reflection of the slugger’s dissatisfaction.
“You think back to less than a year ago when you were on the dais and you’re talking about (Arenado’s) extension,” Bridich said. “All those things we said publicly in terms of the elite level of talent, the elite level of production, the elite level of work ethic, the elite level of his own expectation to play well and to be one of the best players in the game, all of that still rings true right now. I mean, there’s absolutely no wavering in the confidence in him.”
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