Johnny Cueto remains on MLB Opening Day track with help from ex-Giant


On the fourth day of camp, the Giants put their new Zoom setup to the test. Johnny Cueto sat in front of a camera in the club's new interview room and interpreter Erwin Higueros set up in a nearby conference room where he could pass along reporters' questions to Cueto and then translate his answers. 

But there was no help necessary when Cueto was asked who won his spirited live BP sessions with former Giant Eduardo Nuñez in the Dominican Republic in recent weeks. Cueto answered in English before Higueros could start talking.

"Me," he said loudly, laughing softly.

Cueto went on to explain how Nuñez, a popular Giant who played 126 games for the Giants in Cueto's first two years, became one of his best training partners as he tried to stay ready.

"He would call me and say get ready to pitch to me on Wednesday," Cueto said through Higueros. "I would tell him, you come ready, because I will strike you out. Obviously you can see from the video that he didn't make contact. That contact that he made was just foul balls. I killed him."

Cueto posted four videos of the matchups to his Instagram page, including one that took good-natured jabs at Nuñez's interpretation of the strike zone:

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As fun as those matchups with Nuñez, now in camp with the Mets, were, they also were important. The last thing Gabe Kapler did before breaking camp was name Cueto his Opening Day starter, and he remains on track to take the ball months later. Cueto said he's ready to do whatever the staff asks of him.

When the sport was shut down in March, Cueto flew back to his home in the Dominican Republic, where he had to self-quarantine for 14 days per the country's rules. He spent most of the next three months at home, saying he didn't want to leave the house because he was fearful of getting COVID-19 and transmitting it to his family. Early on in the Dominican Republic there was a strict curfew of 5 p.m. It later got moved back two hours. 

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"It's a very difficult situation, and I'm scared for my family just like everyone else is," he said.

Cueto flew to San Francisco on a private jet last week and passed the initial intake screening. He has been part of every workout at Oracle Park, and he said he doesn't have concerns that would cause him to opt out at this point. 

"I'm already here. I made the commitment," he said. "I flew from the Dominican, which is pretty far away. I'm already here and I'm going to give it my all and see what happens, and whatever decision baseball makes I'm going to accept it."

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