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In Johnny Cueto’s first start with the San Francisco Giants, the right-hander threw seven strong innings against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 5, 2016, allowing one run and striking out out four in a 2-1 road victory.

Cueto earned the win, the first of his 18 that season.

He had an immediate impact with the Giants, making the National League All-Star team and finishing sixth in Cy Young Award voting while helping them reach the playoffs.

Cueto’s impact also has been noticeable since joining the Chicago White Sox in May. He returned to San Francisco this weekend for a three-game series at Oracle Park.

“I felt like I pitched very well there,” Cueto said through an interpreter Wednesday afternoon at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif. “The chemistry we had on that team was good. Teammates were very nice with me.”

Cueto, 36, said being back at the ballpark was an “honor.”

“It was my house for six years,” Cueto said. “The fans have treated me very well there. I like the ballpark. It’s a big ballpark.”

Cueto, who is 2-4 with a 3.33 ERA in nine outings (eight starts) this season, shared handshakes, hugs and laughs with some Giants before batting practice Friday.

He isn’t the only player seeing familiar faces this weekend. Former Sox starter Carlos Rodón is 7-4 with a 2.62 ERA in his first season with the Giants.

“Everybody’s pulling for him,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said of Rodón on Friday.

Rodón, who spent parts of seven seasons with the Sox, and Cueto are not slated to pitch this weekend after both were on the mound Tuesday. Rodón allowed one run in six innings in a 4-3 victory against the Detroit Tigers, and Cueto allowed three runs on seven hits in six innings and earned the victory in an 11-4 win against the Los Angeles Angels.

“It would be fun to have the chance to pitch there,” Cueto said.

Cueto went 39-27 with a 3.81 ERA in 104 appearances (103 starts) for the Giants from 2016-21. He went 7-7 with a 4.08 ERA last season.

The Sox signed Cueto to a minor-league contract on April 8. After four starts at Triple-A Charlotte, Cueto made his Sox debut May 16 against another one of his former teams — the Kansas City Royals. Cueto allowed two hits and struck out seven in six scoreless innings.

It was just the beginning of an impressive season.

“I feel happy with how my season has been going,” Cueto said. “I’ve been able to pitch well, to help the team. And I feel good.”

La Russa said Cueto “could not have been better for us.”

“He’s very smart, he’s got a good memory, he knows how to get through a lineup,” La Russa said Friday. “He’s a worker. Guys like to be around him, and he likes to contribute what he knows.”

Cueto, in his 15th major-league season, has pitched at least six innings in seven of the eight starts.

“We knew it was possible that he had that upside,” Sox general manager Rick Hahn said on June 20. “It was a matter of health. He was going to give us everything that he had at that point. The question was just going to come down to what he had left. So far, he’s been fantastic.”

One of Cueto’s standout performances didn’t come in a start. Scheduled to pitch the June 13 series opener in Detroit, Cueto volunteered to work out of the bullpen the day before when starter Michael Kopech exited after two-thirds of an inning with right knee discomfort.

Cueto entered in the third and pitched five solid innings against the Texas Rangers.

“What he did when Kopech went down for him to essentially, I mean literally get out of the hot tub and wander over and say he was able to go, we don’t do what we did in Detroit (sweep a three-game series) without Johnny Cueto stepping up and eating up those innings,” Hahn said. “Our bullpen leading up to that Detroit series was extremely taxed. And quite candidly, we weren’t sure how we’d get through that game (against the Rangers) only getting two outs from our starter. And Cueto saved the bullpen, saved the staff and set us up for a successful road trip.”

Cueto followed that outing with seven shutout innings against the Astros on June 18 in Houston.

“It’s good (playing behind Cueto) because he likes to pitch fast and he usually gets quick outs,” Sox center fielder Luis Robert said Tuesday.

Asked about his path to the Sox, Cueto said there were a few teams interested in him, “but they weren’t offering a good deal. And they were offering me just a spot for the bullpen.

“I’ve been a starter for my whole career. I have my routine as a starter. I know what I have to do to prepare for the games. Once you know you aren’t able to make it as a starter, then you go to the bullpen. That’s not my case.”

Liam Hendriks expected to return Monday

The Sox closer pitched a simulated game Friday afternoon at Oracle Park and anticipates being reinstated from the injured list Monday.

Hendriks has been on the IL retroactively since June 11 with a right forearm strain.

“Ball came out well (Friday), and that’s all that really matters,” Hendriks said. “The plan is to be active on Monday, right in time for that (Minnesota) Twins series.”

Hendriks has a 2.81 ERA and 16 saves.

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Bears already thin wide receiver room takes a big hit with apparent injury

The Chicago Bears’ weak wide receiver room takes another hit with the N’Keal Harry injury.

As if the Chicago Bears were not already devoid of talent in the wide receiver room, N’Keal Harry had to be helped off the field by his teammates and trainers during training camp on Saturday.

Harry was a former first-round pick out of Arizona State by the New England Patriots. After largely struggling to find separation in Foxborough, he was traded to the Bears while still on his rookie contract. With an opportunity to make an impact on a receiving corps featuring Darnell Mooney and little else, this is the last thing the Bears were hoping for before they play a preseason game.

Chicago is in the running to be arguably the worst team in football this upcoming NFL season.

Bears WR NKeal Harry left practice today with an apparent injury. He needed help off the field by teammates and trainers.

— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) August 6, 2022

Chicago Bears wide receiver N’Keal Harry suffers injury during training camp

According to team beat reporters, the ankle injury seems to be of the significant variety. Harry was unable to put weight on his injured foot after sustaining the injury in practice. Chicago traded a seventh-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft for the former Patriots wide receiver. The hope is he would be contending for a roster spot on one of the weakest receiving corps across the league.

Chicago hosts the Kansas City Chiefs in their first preseason game of the summer next Saturday. With less than a week to get it turned around, there is no chance Harry will play in the first of three preseason games for the Bears. The worst part in all this is he may not have an opportunity to show his new franchise that he has what it takes to make this team. This is such tough luck…

Conversely, this is an opportunity for somebody else in the Bears’ receiving room outside of Mooney and Equanimeous St. Brown to make a compelling case for a roster spot. Given that it is a new regime in town with Matt Eberflus as head coach and Ryan Poles as general manager, nothing is given with these Bears. Pretty much everyone on this roster will have to earn their keep.

Here is to Harry’s injury not being a season-ender and that he has a shot at making the Bears.

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