The Reds put their opening day starter on the DL again Saturday, a day after he left the series opener at Texas because of tightness in his upper back. Cueto threw only 29 pitches and came out one batter into the second inning Friday night.
"It's very disheartening," manager Dusty Baker said Saturday. "So close to being himself. It's hard. I just hope we can come up with a solution."
Cueto returned to Cincinnati on Saturday to be examined by Reds medical director Dr. Timothy Kremchek.
Cincinnati recalled right-hander Logan Ondrusek from Triple-A Louisville.
Cueto (4-2, 3.33 ERA) was on the DL from April 15 to May 19 with a strained right lat. He missed the first half of June with what was called a strained right shoulder, though it was related to the lat problem.
"I don't know how to explain what is happening," Cueto said through a translator after Friday night's game. "It's the third time it's happened. I just want to keep working and hope it will get better."
Baker said left-hander Tony Cingrani (3-0, 3.42), who took over for Cueto and went four innings Friday night, will again fill Cueto's rotation spot. That next comes up Wednesday against San Francisco.
In Game 1 of the National League division series last season against San Francisco, Cueto left after only eight pitches because of a strained right oblique and didn't pitch again in the postseason. But he was healthy throughout spring training.
Cueto, a 19-game winner last season, made three starts in April before going on the DL for the first time. He came back to make three more starts before another DL stint, and was making his third start since returning again when came out Friday night.
On at least one pitch in the first inning to Adrian Beltre, who had an RBI single to put the Rangers ahead to stay in a 4-0 victory, Cueto clearly grimaced.
Though he wasn't feeling right, Cueto spoke to pitching coach Bryan Price after the first inning and said he wanted to keep pitching. Cueto thought maybe he'd loosen up and the discomfort would go away.
But after Cueto threw a 1-2 fastball that Mitch Moreland fouled off leading off the second, he was done for the night.
"Your heart sort of sinks when you go out there and you know the news you're about to get. See the look on his face," Baker said Saturday. "Especially a guy that loves to pitch like that. ... He lives for it."
Even before Baker got to the mound Friday night, Cueto had already put the ball in catcher Devin Mesoraco's mitt.
Asked if his twisting motion has contributed to the issues with his lat muscle, Cueto said he didn't think his mechanics had anything to do with it.
"I always discuss it with the pitching coach, and he said I don't have to change," Cueto said. "If it's anything that would hurt with my mechanics it would be my oblique area."