Programming note: Giants-Reds coverage starts today at 3:30pm with Giants Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area.
NEW YORK — After Johnny Cueto shut out the Padres last week, catcher Buster Posey said one of the right-hander’s best traits is his intelligence on the mound and ability to read hitters and swings. Cueto is pretty smart off the field, too.
The longtime Red has never heard of Skyline Chili, the fast food chili joint beloved — for some bizarre reason — by the locals. He said he didn’t eat out much in Cincinnati because his family was always around for home-cooked meals, but they’re not on this trip.
“Now I can go,” Cueto said, smiling.
He probably shouldn’t. It could ruin what otherwise should be a good homecoming. Cueto returns to Cincinnati pitching (4-1, 2.65 ERA) just the way he did when he became the Reds’ ace, and he said he hopes those years have not been forgotten.
Asked if he expects cheers, Cueto said he’s not sure. “I do know that when I was there, the fans liked me a lot,” he said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. “But I'm just happy to go back and pitch there.”
Cueto spent the first eight years of his career in Cincinnati, a run that began when he pushed Jeremy Affeldt out of the rotation in 2008.
“When they talked me into signing with them they said they were going to give me a chance to start and it was my last roll of the dice,” Affeldt said on our Giants podcast last month. “I said, you know what, I’ll give myself one more chance to start and see if I can do it, and if I can’t I’ll close the door. And this kid comes in and they didn’t know how he would do.
“I remember I was taking my time getting ready and this guy is coming in throwing 93-94, painting. He (had) a phenomenal changeup and good breaking ball and he just out-pitched me.”
It all worked out for Affeldt, who became a shutdown reliever and won three rings in San Francisco. Cueto got his title last October when the Reds dealt him to Kansas City for three players, including Brandon Finnegan, who starts against Cueto today.
Cueto left a contender in Kansas City for one in San Francisco. The Reds, meanwhile, are at the start of what could be a long rebuilding process. Cueto said they never tried to sign him to a long-term extension.
“That's part of baseball,” Cueto said. “A lot of teams go through that rebuilding process. Take Houston, for example. They went through that and look what they ended up doing last year. So I'm hopeful that that's the same thing that's going to happen to Cincinnati.”
--- From yesterday, Madison Bumgarner leads the Giants to a win in New York, avoiding the sweep. (Side note: I was at a bar last night watching the Sunday night game and a Red Sox fan was gushing about Bumgarner, only with his accent it's Bombgahdnah. Also, he, uhhh, was not a big fan of the Pablo Sandoval deal.)
Tim Lincecum is finally set for his showcase. Here's a look at what that means for the Giants.
Finally, Angel Pagan has a leg injury. The Giants won't announce a move until this afternoon, but for what it's worth Mac Williamson was pulled from Sacramento's game in the seventh inning.