SCOTTSDALE -- The Giants will wait a bit longer to get a prized pitching acquisition on the mound. Right-hander Johnny Cueto was scratched from Saturday's game, but manager Bruce Bochy said Cueto isn't hurt.
"We're just backing him off a little," Bochy said.
The decision was Bochy's, and he called this an "old-school" way of handling a starter. Cueto will get one fewer start than expected, but the staff believes he's a touch-and-feel pitcher who can get just as much out of a bullpen session as he would out of facing a lineup filled with minor leaguers. Cueto is expected to throw a bullpen session this weekend and then make his Giants debut next Wednesday. Bochy said he has "not had a setback with the arm."
The Giants have always planned to keep a close watch on Cueto, who threw 212 regular-season innings for the Reds and Royals last year and then 25 more in the postseason. Cueto, 30, pitched a league-high 243 2/3 innings for the Reds in 2014. Bochy said Cueto wanted to take most of the winter off after the World Series run, so he's a tad behind.
Cueto is far from the only veteran being held back by a staff that dealt with endless injuries last season. Angel Pagan (offseason knee surgery) won't play until March 8; Brandon Crawford (sore shoulder) is limited to DH duty until at least the middle of next week, along with Denard Span (hip surgery); Sergio Romo is being slow-played to protect his elbow. Hunter Pence (Achilles tendinitis) and Matt Cain (cyst removed) are sidelined for at least a few more days, although Bochy said Pence is ahead of schedule and close to playing in a game.
Left-hander Ricky Romero, a former Blue Jays standout, will start in Cueto's place at Scottsdale Stadium. Minor league right-hander Chris Stratton will start on the road as the Giants face their first split-squad day of the spring.