Injury sidelines Reds' Cueto for start of season

Right-handed starter Johnny Cueto will miss the start of the season because of an inflamed pitching shoulder, forcing the Cincinnati Reds to juggle their rotation.

Cueto had to leave his last two spring training starts because of soreness in his right arm. He returned to Cincinnati over the weekend for an examination by Dr. Timothy Kremchek and an MRI that found mild inflammation in the shoulder but no significant injury.

"Everything is structurally fine," general manager Walt Jocketty said Monday. "Dr. Kremchek recommended that he not throw for a week to 10 days, then begin a throwing program."

The Reds plan to leave Cueto at their training complex in Arizona when they head north to open the season on Thursday, March 31 against Milwaukee.

The injury forced manager Dusty Baker to rearrange his rotation less than two weeks before the opener. He had planned to use Edinson Volquez, Bronson Arroyo and Cueto at the top of the rotation, with Homer Bailey, left-hander Travis Wood and Mike Leake in the mix for the last two spots.

Baker tentatively reordered the top of his rotation as Volquez, Bailey and Arroyo, with Wood and Leake filling the last two spots in some order. Wood would be the only left-hander in the rotation.

Cueto got a $27 million, four-year deal last January, allowing both sides to avoid salary arbitration. The 24-year-old pitcher went 12-7 last season and led the staff with 138 strikeouts. The bullpen blew six save chance behind him, the second-highest total for any pitcher in the majors.

He was especially good late in the season, when the Reds were closing in on the NL Central title and their first playoff appearance in 15 years. He made quality starts in six of his last seven appearances. He started the third and final game of the Reds' playoff series against Philadelphia, losing 2-0.