PHILADELPHIA -- Reds ace Johnny Cueto's performance jumped another level in quality in 2011 when he made a change to his mechanics that had him turning his back to the batter. It was similar to something Luis Tiant did in the 1970s.
2011 was also the year that a nagging injury started occurring for Cueto, who strained his right lat muscle late that season and again last month when he was placed on the disabled list. In 2012 during the playoffs, he strained his right oblique muscle. He suffered a recurrence of oblique soreness earlier this month, as well during his rehab process.
"This is part of the game, to get hurt. Maybe the rotation I do and that mechanic I do is affecting me," Cueto said Sunday as Tomas Vera translated. "I'm going to have to see what's going on. If that continues to happen, I'm going to have to make some changes in my mechanics."
Cueto, who is 1-0 with a 2.60 ERA in three starts for the Reds this season, will be activated from the disabled list on Monday to face the Mets in the opener of a three-game series at Citi Field. He has made two rehab starts for Class A Dayton without issue, totaling 13 innings with one run allowed. He threw 58 pitches in five scoreless innings on Tuesday for the Dragons.
"I'm happy and thank God most of all, I'm healthy," Cueto said. "I will continue to work hard and see what happens."
Cozart scratched from lineup with illness
PHILADELPHIA -- The Reds were forced to scratch shortstop Zack Cozart from Sunday's lineup due to illness. Cesar Izturis started in Cozart's place and batted second.
Izturis, the only Spring Training non-roster invitee to earn a roster spot out of camp, made only his seventh start of the season and played in his 15th game overall. He came in batting .167 (6-for-19) with two RBIs
When Izturis plays, the Reds lose nothing on defense, as he was a 2004 Gold Glove winner.
"He came here with that reputation," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He's been trying to find his stroke for a while, but Cozart is trying to find his too. Izturis is ready to play every day. He hasn't played that much -- him and Jack Hannahan are usually two of the first guys here every day, staying ready. You never know when you're going to be pressed into service."
Cairo ready to help in new role for Reds
PHILADELPHIA -- On Friday, when manager Dusty Baker vehemently argued after a play at the plate called safe that scored a Phillies run, one wondered if he might get ejected.
Now that Chris Speier has moved from the bench to coach at third base while Mark Berry is away for cancer treatment, Miguel Cairo is the bench coach. He would have stepped in as manager if Baker was thrown out.
"I was ready. I'll be ready," Cairo said.
Cairo retired as a player following last season, capping a 17-year career in the big leagues. On Feb. 14, he joined the Reds' baseball-operations department as a special assistant to general manager Walt Jocketty. But plans changed upon Berry's throat cancer diagnosis in March, and Cairo has gotten a lot of coaching exposure in a jiffy.
"It's been a learning experience," Cairo said. "I've got Dusty and the rest of the coaches with a lot of experience. I'm right besides Dusty. He's got a lot of experience. His job is a handful and he knows how to deal with it. This has been an opportunity to learn."
Like most coaches, Cairo has a fungo bat at his side nearly constantly and has recently started throwing batting practice.
"I wasn't planning on this, but they asked me to help," he said. "Walt brought me over here to work with him, and I couldn't say no. It's a great opportunity for me."
Cairo, who has played for managers like Baker, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa, could one day be a skipper himself. That's not at the forefront at the moment, however.
"Right now, I'm just trying to help," Cairo said. "Later on, maybe. I want to help with the players and be helpful for the team."
MRI confirms no new injury for Heisey
PHILADELPHIA -- Injured Reds left fielder Chris Heisey, who had a setback early last week while rehabbing his injured right hamstring, had an MRI taken in Cincinnati. It confirmed the strain, but no other serious injury was found.
Heisey, who has been on the disabled list since April 29, has been continuing his treatment. There is no timetable known for when he might get back on a rehab assignment and into games.
"I don't know about square one, but maybe two or three," head trainer Paul Lessard said on Sunday. "He's doing well with the treatment, and he's feeling better."