Cueto to miss from 2 to 4 starts

An upbeat Johnny Cueto expects to start throwing again in five or six days after suffering a strained right lat muscle in his back Saturday in Pittsburgh, and he said Monday he could miss as few as two starts.

“I don’t feel this is going to affect me at all,” Cueto said.

That would be good news for the Reds, who put their ace on the 15-day disabled list Monday before the first game of a three-game series against the Phillies at Great American Ball Park. The Reds called up right-handed reliever Justin Freeman from Triple-A Louisville to take his place and made one other move, transferring outfielder Ryan Ludwick (shoulder) to the 60-day DL.

“I feel bad,” said Cueto through his interpreter, trainer Tomas Vera. “I always want to be with the team and help the team the same way they help me. This is unbelievable. I was feeling so good. I had been pitching so relaxed.”

Reds manager Dusty Baker said Cueto could miss as many as three or four starts.

“Once he does come back, he still has to get his endurance up,” Baker said. “We’re not really putting a timetable on it. We’re going to miss him. We’ve got to find a way to carry on.”

Baker said left-hander Tony Cingrani, who is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in three starts in Louisville, could possibly be called up when Cueto’s next scheduled start comes up Thursday against the Marlins.

Cingrani was the Reds’ minor league pitcher of the year in 2012, and he made his Major League debut in September when rosters were expanded. He made three relief appearances with the Reds and had a 9.00 ERA.

“Cingrani couldn’t help us now,” Baker said. “We need somebody the way our bullpen is taxed to help us the next two or three days. Then we’ll deal with Johnny’s start.”

Freeman, the Reds’ 32nd-round pick in 2008, allowed one earned run in five innings of relief in Louisville. The 26-year-old is from Macon, Ga.

“He’s the guy that’s thrown the best,” Baker said. “He has good stuff.”

Boston tragedy: President Obama’s statement about the explosions at the Boston Marathon was aired live on the scoreboard in center field before the game, and the Reds held a moment of silence before the national anthem to honor those killed and injured in Boston.

Honoring Jackie: The Reds and all of Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day on Monday, the 66th anniversary of Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers. All the players wore No. 42.

Baker never met Robinson, who died in 1972. But he has met many of Robinson’s family members, and at least two photos of Robinson are on the wall behind his desk. Baker also has a wall dedicated to Robinson at his home, and his son Darren has told him he wants to go to UCLA and play second base like Robinson did.

“My dad used to talk about Jackie all the time, and we watched all the movies,” Baker said. “My mom made me do book reports on him.”

Always on base: Joey Votto has reached base safely in all 13 games. He singled in the first, at which time he had reached base 33 times in 60 plate appearances. Entering the game, Votto’s .542 on-base percentage led all of baseball.

Tonight: Homer Bailey (1-1, 5.73 ERA) will start for the Reds against Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick (1-1, 5.40) in the second game of the series at 7:10 tonight.

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