The Cincinnati Reds have lost top starter Johnny Cueto for at least a few weeks because of a strained muscle in his back, the third significant injury for the defending National League Central champions in the season's opening weeks.
Cueto went on the 15-day disabled list on Monday. The Reds called up right-handed reliever Justin Freeman from Triple-A Louisville, a boost to their often-used bullpen.
The Reds are likely to call up left-hander Tony Cingrani to start in Cueto's spot on Thursday.
Last year, the Reds made it through the regular season without one of their starters getting hurt. That streak ended when Cueto pulled an oblique muscle in the first inning of a playoff game against San Francisco, leaving their rotation in flux for the rest of a five-game series that the Giants won.
Cueto strained a back muscle during the fifth inning of a 3-1 loss in Pittsburgh on Saturday, forcing manager Dusty Baker to go deep into his bullpen. The injury was initially thought to...