The Cincinnati Reds blocked ace Johnny Cueto from pitching for the Dominican Republic in next month’s World Baseball Classic.
Cueto strained his right oblique eight pitches into last October’s division series against the San Francisco Giants. Because he finished the year with an injury, the Reds had the right to block him from playing in the WBC.
“I wanted to pitch for the Dominican but the team said no. It’s all right,” Cueto said Thursday. “I am going to work to get ready for the season. I was ready to pitch. I’m 100 percent.”
Cueto was 19-9 with a 2.78 ERA in 33 starts during the regular season
“I’m not sure happy is the right word. I’m more relieved.” manager Dusty Baker said. “I understand the pressure for the Latin player to pitch for their country. If he was a 10-game winner instead of a 19-game winner, there wouldn’t be as much pressure.”
The Dominican Republic is in Group C with Puerto Rico, Spain and Venezuela.
“I will be watching the Classic and rooting for the Dominican,” Cueto said.
Nationals sign Young
The Washington Nationals agreed to terms with right-handed pitcher Chris Young on a minor-league contract with an invitation to major-league spring training.
Young is 53-43 with a 3.79 ERA in 159 career starts with the New York Mets, San Diego Padres and Texas Rangers. Young, 33, was an All-Star with the Padres in 2007.
He went 4-9 with a 4.15 ERA in 20 starts last season with the Mets.
The Nationals announced the deal Thursday.
Pudge back with Rangers
Ivan Rodriguez re-joined the Texas Rangers organization as a special assistant to the general manager with several different roles.
Rodriguez made his major-league debut as a 19-year-old for the Rangers in 1991. The 14-time All-Star catcher retired as a player last April after 21 seasons, more than half spent in Texas.
The Rangers say he will assist the team in several areas, including international scouting, player instruction on the major- and minor-league levels and talent evaluation. He will also represent the team in community and marketing endeavors.
Rodriguez traveled to the Dominican Republic with Rangers officials last month. He is expected to join the team in Arizona for spring training for a few days late next week.
Yankees flop outfielders
Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner each views himself as a center fielder, though only one will be standing there at Yankee Stadium on April 1.
After a winter of contemplation, Yankees brass finally has determined that a switch is in order, with Gardner the better choice in center. That means sliding Granderson over to left field — a position he hasn’t started a major-league game at since 2005.
But the change won’t become official until manager Joe Girardi sees how the new alignment plays out in exhibition games.
“I think it has a chance to help us a little bit, but I’m not really sure,” Girardi said Thursday. “I’m not saying today that this is what it’s going to be Opening Day.”
Granderson bears the greatest impact of this decision, and his preference is plain.
“I’d love to play center, that’s where I’ve been playing,” Granderson said. “At the same time, I want to play in general.”
Since Granderson’s arrival in pinstripes, the fleet Gardner has spent the bulk of his playing time in left. And despite his above-average performance at the position, Gardner said he was more comfortable in center.
“I probably always will,” Gardner said.