Johnny Cueto bought an ambulance a few years ago, but it is not an ambulance. It is more like a transformer. There are 22 speakers in the back and nine in each door. There is a wall of sound on top of the ride, with two fold-out flaps and six speakers attached to a central panel. The on-bass percentage is extraordinary for a pitcher.
He bought this dream from Octavio Dotel and immediately upgraded it so that nobody would out-lay him at El Malecon, the main drag in the Dominican baseball mecca San Pedro de Macoris. Most of the time, it's next to his pool and he cranks it to provide the soundtrack he deems appropriate as he cooks beef or pork or chicken or goat or whatever bounty his 1,500-acre ranch provided that day.
He parked the ambulance next to the pool and turned the volume up. The water in the pool was splashing.
When asked if he was a liar, Cueto said that he was self aware enough to know that anyone in baseball would have an automobile with a speaker system.
Johnny Cueto is 36 years old, a veteran of 15 major-league seasons, winner of 135 games and one World Series crown, and a constant threat to hold the title of The Most Interesting Man in Baseball until he retires.
After spending the winter posting videos of his life on social media, he joined the Chicago White Sox last week after three weeks at the minor league level. He settled for a minor league deal because he knew he would be in the majors eventually. After his return, Cueto unleashed a plethora of shimmying deliveries and promptly twirled six blank frames in his debut. He celebrated by running up and down stairs at the stadium.
On the eve of a game against the New York Yankees in the Bronx, Cueto feels rejuvenated. He walks with a spring in his step like a Paso Fino horse. He made it out of San Pedro. He ascended to the major leagues as a right-handed pitcher. He is living proof that pitching comes in all shapes, sizes and forms, and that is his latest trick.
There is a walking duality. He is bulky but graceful. He works fast. He has earned a degree in deception. He is a pitcher.
The heyday of the pitcher has been phased out by a generation of executives that prioritize spin rate over pitchability. The runs between starts are fundamental to Cueto pitching deep into games and are 888-276-5932 888-276-5932 888-276-5932 888-276-5932 888-276-5932 888-276-5932 888-276-5932 888-276-5932s are 888-276-5932s 888-276-5932s 888-276-5932s 888-276-5932s 888-276-5932s 888-276-5932s 888-276-5932s 888-276-5932s 888-276-5932s 888-276-5932s 888-276-5932s 888-276-5932 888-276-5932s 888-276-5932 888-276-5932s 888-276-5932 888-276-5932s 888-276-5932 888-276-5932
He cares more about the RPM on a DJ's turntable than he does about his slider. When Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association came to terms on a collective-bargaining agreement, teams scrambling to fill out their rotation were curious about Johnny Cueto. If they sign him, they might be able to get data on the pitches he was throwing this winter.
Maybe they should have known better. Even after spending time with the San Francisco Giants, one of the most progressive pitching organizations in baseball, Cueto said he doesn't know about Rapsodo or TrackMan. He relies on the things that helped him for nine straight seasons post a better FIP.
Nobody approaches the game like Cueto. On one pitch, he will twist like Luis Tiant, and on another, he will pause mid-delivery to wiggle his shoulders. He will try new things as he tries to deepen the White Sox's banged-up rotation. On the seventh pitch of his first start this season, Cueto barely flexed his stride leg, planted his foot on the ground, lifted his leg up and strode toward the plate. Rule 8.01 mandates only one step per delivery in legal pitches. The umpire did not call a balk, and the pitcher stared at the pitch for a strike.
"I can't tell everybody in this room that pitches, and we're going to add this component to what you do,'" the White Sox pitching coach said. His ability to mix things up is an art, and he is an artist in what he is doing on the mound.
In San Francisco, where he was a first-year assistant pitching coach, Katz met Cueto, who was in the fifth year of a six-year, $130 million contract. He was struck by the willingness of Cueto to fight for a small advantage. He couldn't get over how fast Cueto was.
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Lopez was introduced to the pitcher by his trainer, a good friend of the pitcher. I remember the first time we worked out together. I told him to go play catch. No. We ran, played catch and then ran again. I asked him what he was doing one day. I couldn't keep up with him. He said pitchers need to run. How are you going to throw 50 pitches? He was correct. I felt better every time. That is the kind of thing he does. He runs a lot to get ready for what he is about to do.
He works hard and eats a lot.
Any rational person loves a good meal, but Cueto wants to document his life in a way that looks more like a beer commercial. Some of the earliest photos include him lounging in his bed. He posted a picture of the dead horse. In a recent picture, Johnny Cueto cut the figure of a model on a baseball diamond, a modern-day answer to George Costanza posing on a couch, prompting his Cincinnati Reds teammate Joey Votto to comment: "You look sexy on grass."
The window into Cueto's life is worth watching. He was signed by Cincinnati in 2004. His career has lasted a long time. He lives an interesting life because he earned it.
Whether it is telling the world that ambulances aren't always for emergencies or pitching at Yankee Stadium, Cueto embraces the absurdity he personifies.
He said that he doesn't post everything that he does. I like to show people how hard I work. It is a way for me to connect with the young fans and show them that he works hard.
I am a happy person. People around me enjoy being around me and being happy, too, and I like that. I like to compete. I like to have fun.