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I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Johnny Cueto Returns To Cincinnati As A Mentor

At the risk of sounding like the intro to a Criminal Minds episode, Yogi Berra once said, "Ninety percent of the game is half mental."

It took Johnny Cueto two seasons to get that mental aspect of his game in order.

He returns to Cincinnati, the team that signed him as an 18-year old from San Pedro de Mocoris in the Dominican Republic in 2004.

There was never a question of his talent but it took him two solid years to master the mental aspects of the game, the mental toughness that it takes to excel at the Major League level.

In his early years, his mistakes, umpires calls and errors by the defense behind him, would cause him to become visibly upset and lose his concentration.  He was 9-14 with a 4.81 ERA in his rookie season in 2008. Cueto was 11-11 with a 4.41 ERA in 2009.

Starting in 2010 with a 12-7 record and a 3.64 ERA, Cueto became one of the best pitchers in baseball. He won 19 games in 2012. After an injury plagued 2013, Cueto won 20 games in 2014.  He was about to cash in on what he learned when he was scheduled to become a free agent at the end of 2015.

The Reds brought in former ace Mario Soto, a fellow Dominican, to Reds' spring training camp to show Cueto how to be a star. The pair were inseparable.

Michael Lorenzen, the Reds' 23-year old rookie pitcher, was seen next to Cueto nearly every minute of spring training in Goodyear, Arizona.

Cueto was 7-6 with a 2.62 ERA when the Reds traded him for three ultra talented, young left-handed pitchers.

Since going to Kansas City, Cueto has pitched in four games with a 2-1 record and microscopic 1.80 ERA.
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The 29-year has been an asset to the Royals on the mound but his value to his new team doesn't stop there.

Cueto has taken under his wing, young, talented but head strong future ace of the Royals Yordano Ventura follows Cueto's every move.

"Watch when Cueto pitches," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Ventura is at the end of the bench and doesn't take his eyes off Johnny.  When Johnny comes to the bench, you see them talk about pitching.  Johnny is teaching him how to be a star at a young age."

Ventura at 23 is what Cueto was at the same age.

"Ventura is extremely talented but young and aggressive," Yost said. "Johnny has been a great addition inside the clubhouse and out on the field."

Professionally edited by ML Schirmer
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