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Johnny Cueto to start third straight Opening Day for Reds

Johnny Cueto (Rob Tringali/Getty Images) Johnny Cueto is 65-48 with a 3.53 ERA in six seasons with the Reds. (Rob Tringali/Getty Images)

Johnny Cueto will make his third straight Opening Day start for the Reds on Monday against the Cardinals in Cincinnati, first-year manager Bryan Price announced on Thursday.

Cueto battled a tender throwing shoulder this spring, even missing a start, but is now healthy. Tony Cingrani will be the team's No. 2 starter.

Cueto, 27, battled injuries last season and made only 11 starts, going 5-2 with a 2.82 ERA.

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He was coming off a 19-9 season in 2012, when he made a league-high 33 starts, pitched a career-high 217 innings and finished fourth in NL Cy Young Award voting.

"I've spoken with Johnny ahead of time," Price said. "He had a pretty good understanding that if he made it through [Tuesday's] start that he'd be starting Opening Day."

Following Cingrani in the rotation will be Homer Bailey, who has had a sore right groin this spring, and Mike Leake, who had slight pain in his abdomen.

Mat Latos will miss at least one start after minor elbow surgery and getting his left knee scoped.

"Yeah, he was really happy," Price said of Cueto. "When he's healthy, he's been our No. 1 starter legitimately for the previous four years. The problem last year was he was only able to make 11 starts for us. Keeping him healthy was the key. That's why I was reluctant to name a starting rotation, especially when Latos went down early. Homer and Leake had their issues. And with Johnny's recent history, it was really difficult to make an early decision about who was going to start on Opening Day."
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