As Johnny K-ueto (with credit to Ohdave) used a 96 miles an hour scythe on the Arizona Diamondbacks en route to 10 strikeouts, the Arizona scribes sat in their second row seats of the Great American Ball Park press box completely mesmerized.
“Who is this guy?”
“Where have they been hiding this kid?”
Eventually, I turned to veteran writer Jack Magruder of the East Valley Tribune and said, “Wait until you see Edinson Volquez?”
He said he had heard good things about Volquez, more than about Cueto.
That’s because if you look at spring training statistics you will see that Cueto’s ERA was 5.09 and that he walked 12 in 16 innings. Volquez had a 2.70 ERA, walking four in 20 inniungs while striking out 26. Cueto struck out 19.
The different was subpar Cueto starts in his last two spring training exhibitions, including one game in which he walked five in the first inning.
Manager Dusty Baker said he believes it was because Cueto thought he was still trying to make the team and was anxious and overthrowing.
“Once he knew he was on the team, he relaxed and was himself,” said Baker. There certainly weren’t enough fans on the gloomy, drizzly day to make him nervous. There weren’t enough in the stands to start a good bar brawl.
But if Cueto continues to pitch the way he did Thursday, eventually 134,000 people will say they were in the seats to witness. That’s what Tom Browning always says about his perfect game: “If everybody who told me they were at that game were actually there, they would have had a half-million fans stuffed into Riverfront,” he said.
Volquez gets his start Sunday against the Phillies, with one advantage eradicated. The D-Backs, who train in Arizona, had never seen Cueto, except those who played in the Class A Midwest League for the South Bend Silverhawks when they played the Dayton Dragons.
The Phillies faced Volquez in spring exhibitions.
A word of caution here - and not to be one to toss ice water on the cat. Don’t dive head first overboard on Cueto’s one start.
He is 22. He has very little experience. He will hit bumps and pot holes along the way. Too often all of us have gone cuckoo and ga-ga much too quickly with Reds pitchers.
Can you say Jack Armstrong or Scott Scudder or Ty Howington or Brett Tomko or Ryan Wagner or Chris Gruler or C.J. Nitkowski - or, yes, Homer Bailey?
It was a wow-em debut, extremely enjoyable to witness. He has the stuff to continue doing it, but human foibles sometimes work in strange ways.
But for me, give me a towel and dry off that cat, then I’ll dive overboard. The kid is something and let’s see what Volques does.Tweet