Cashner Raring to Go

Chicago Cubs pitching prospect Andrew Cashner is learning that patience is a virtue. The right-hander and 2008 first-round draft pick had expected to make his 2009 debut by now, but an injury in spring training forced Cashner to the DL to open the season.

"It's been frustrating, but at the same time you've just got to really take it slow," said Cashner. "The most frustrating part is I want to be out there with everybody else competing for a spot."

Cashner, who signed for $1.54 million last summer and received a guaranteed invite to big league spring training, strained his left oblique muscle shortly after being assigned to minor league camp.

He says it is the strangest injury of his young career and that he's not sure how it happened.

"I had a lot of adrenaline going," he recalled. "I don't know what happened. I made a pitch and felt something hurt. I didn't know really what it was. I was coming out of the game and I went and ran, and that's when it started hurting even worse. I told them and I've been rehabbing it ever since."

Cashner may not be behind for much longer, though. He expects to be out of Arizona by no later than the final week of April and hopes to be assigned to Class High-A Daytona, where he closed 2008.

Chicago Farm Director Oneri Fleita said that Cashner's rehab has gone according to plan.

"He's doing fine and is already close to throwing off the mound. He's probably going to miss about the first 10 days of the season," Fleita said.

Cashner was lights out for Daytona, the Florida State League champions, in the playoffs last season. He tossed six scoreless innings with no hits allowed and 11 strikeouts. He topped out at 98 mph, according to Cubs coaches.

"I think they're shooting for somewhere around April 20, like the 23rd through the 25th, somewhere in there," Cashner said of his ETA for returning to live games. "They've told me that I'm going to stay here until I build up five innings or a certain amount of pitches before I go."

That's important to note because there was some question as to Cashner's role going into the season after he spent 2009 in relief. Most expected Cashner to start games this season.

"I imagine I'll start for the whole year," said Cashner. "I'm looking forward to it. My slider is really, really good right now; I just have to work it into the zone. This year will be a lot better for me knowing that I'm going to be starting the whole year rather than as a reliever."

Cashner said he has been working on fastball location and the development of his changeup this spring.

"I've really been working on cutting down on walks, attacking the zone and not trying to be too fine," he said. "As a starter, you want to get that first or second pitch. I'm not really concerned about the strikeouts as much as going longer into the game and not giving up a lot of runs. I've been working on my changeup a lot. It's coming along from where it was when I started throwing it last year."

Northsiders Report Top Stories