Miami Marlins right-handed pitcher Johnny Cueto on Monday was originally scheduled to throw about 70 pitches over at least four, ideally five, innings on a back field at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex. Cueto was going to be using a PitchCom device to call his own pitches.
That outing never occurred.
Marlins manager Skip Schumaker on Tuesday said Cueto, a 15-year MLB veteran who signed a one-year deal with Miami this offseason, was experiencing general arm soreness so the team erred on the side of caution with the regular season starting on March 30. Cueto is scheduled to throw a bullpen on Wednesday and would likely return to game action on Friday if that goes well.
Asked if there are any long-term concerns with Cueto, Schumaker said “no.”
“This is a time where there’s no reason to push through this general soreness,” Schumaker said. “We’re [about] a week away. If he needs another extra day, you give people extra days and that’s the value of spring training. You’re allowed to do that.”
Cueto has pitched in just three games so far this spring training, completing 3 2/3 innings over two outings with the Marlins and making it into the third inning of the Dominican Republic’s pool play finale against Puerto Rico on Wednesday at the World Baseball Classic.
The results haven’t been great — Cueto gave up 11 earned runs in his two Marlins outings and three in the World Baseball Classic start — but Cueto has a routine that he follows throughout spring to be ready for the regular season when results count.
“He’s a veteran guy that works on the fastball and then his changeup and then the cutter and so on,” Schumaker said. “He’s checking every box to make sure he feels good for Opening Day. There’s a progression with him. ... For a guy that’s pitched for 15 years, he knows what he needs to do to get ready.”
That said, Cueto said earlier this month before leaving for the World Baseball Classic that while his focus in spring is “working out little details, I also get upset when I see those type of results.”
“I don’t want to look bad in front of my teammates or the whole team,” Cueto said.
Now, Cueto is potentially adding a new facet to his progression by attempting to call his own pitches via the PitchCom device MLB began using last season.
The PitchCom device resembles something like a video game controller, with various buttons that designate pitch type and location. Once the pitch is entered into the console, it is relayed to a handful of players — the pitcher, catcher and generally middle infielders and center fielder — wearing speakers inside their cap.
Catchers used the main device exclusively last season, but some pitchers are opting to have it themselves so they can get a head start on their plan of attack, especially with the implementation of the pitch clock this season.
Cueto called some of his own pitches during his second spring training outing on March 3, with catcher Jacob Stallings estimating that about half of Cueto’s 48 pitches were called from the mound.
Cueto said the goal of calling his own pitches via the PitchCom is to be able to “pitch a little faster.”
Now, the experiment is still a work in progress. Schumaker said after that March 3 game that Cueto shook off his own pitch a couple times because he accidentally pressed the wrong button.
“That’s why it’s important to figure out what button’s which,” Schumaker said, “because if you look at it, it doesn’t say what’s on there, so you have to know exactly what to do.”