Cueto returns to DL with same injury

The beat writers covering the Reds had to wait much longer than usual to talk to manager Dusty Baker after Tuesday’s 5-4 loss to the Rockies. It turns out Baker had a good reason for delaying the postgame press conference.

Baker was meeting with general manager Walt Jocketty and the trainers to talk about the health of pitcher Johnny Cueto. When Baker was asked after the game about Cueto starting Wednesday, he said, “Well, we’ll talk about that tomorrow.”

That turned out to be a clue because Cueto was scratched from his scheduled start Wednesday and placed on the 15-day disabled list with the same injury that sidelined him from April 15 to May 19, a strained lat muscle in the back of his right shoulder.

“It’s not nearly as serious,” Baker said. “We’re going to take some time while it’s still relatively early to get rid of whatever’s there. It’s the same injury he had before. He felt it a little after he pitched in Pittsburgh. We just think being cautious is the way to go with this thing. He’ll miss at least one and maybe two starts. If he feels better, he’ll miss one. If he doesn’t, we’ll wait as long as possible.”

Cueto was 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in three starts since returning from the DL.

To take Cueto’s spot, Pedro Villarreal was promoted from Triple-A Louisville to make his first big league start. He was 1-3 with a 5.03 ERA in 11 starts with the Bats.

The 25-year-old Villarreal, a seventh-round pick in 2008 and a former Dayton Dragon, pitched one scoreless inning last season with the Reds in his major-league debut.

“Villarreal was a guy who was on the (40-man) roster,” Baker said. “I know people are going wonder about (Tony) Cingrani, but he pitched two days ago. We said in spring training we’re going to need everybody who’s on the roster.”

Phillips update: Brandon Phillips was on fire in an interview before Wednesday’s game. He was showing off the pad that’s protecting his forearm. He’ll have to wear it when he returns to action Friday against the Cardinals after missing four games since getting hit by a pitch Saturday in Pittsburgh.

“This is taking away some of my swag,” Phillips joked. “I feel like Wily Taveras with this on, and that’s not good. This is like some bootleg version that somebody just put together. They just made up something. I’m going to have my teammates sign it.”

Sitting on the bench has been hard on Phillips, but not for the obvious reasons.

“My teammates are like, ‘You need to hurry up and start playing,’ because I don’t know what to do,” Phillips said. “I come in here during the game, and I’m eating up all the snacks. I feel like I’m going to look like Ronnie Belliard playing second base when I come back. I don’t know what’s going to happen.

“I used to make fun of everyone else. I’d say, ‘How are you eating all this stuff?’ They’d say, ‘I guess you don’t know. Once you sit on the bench, you’ll see.’ Now I see. Ramen noodles, Zebra cakes, all the Little Debbie cakes, I’ve been eating all of them.”

Heisey update: Injured left fielder Chris Heisey said he will begin a rehab assignment on Friday in Louisville and at least play through the weekend.

Heisey hasn’t played since April 27 because of a hamstring strain, and he re-injured the hamstring on his first rehab assignment. He’s confident the injury has fully healed.

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