Cashner Returns to Daytona

Top pitching prospect Andrew Cashner on Sunday returned to the place where he threw his best ball for the Chicago Cubs a season ago – Daytona's Jackie Robinson Ballpark.

Making his first start of the season after being sidelined by an oblique injury in spring training, Cashner was on a pitch count limit of 40 and pitched 2 2/3 innings against the Lakeland Flying Tigers.

He opened the game with two scoreless innings before leading off the third inning with a hit batsman, a walk, and a single. Cashner retired the next two batters he faced before being removed after nearing his pitch count limit. He allowed his only run on an RBI sacrifice fly to Kody Kaiser, the last batter he faced.

Cashner received a no-decision in the Cubs' 5-3 victory. He struck out two batters.

"He was good the first two innings and then when he got the guy on base, he just couldn't command his (stuff) half as well from the stretch," Cubs manager Buddy Bailey said. "I think that's a habit that a lot of the young pitchers have is that when they were in college or high school ball, he's probably never pitched a lot of innings out of the stretch. So what happens when you get in the pros is you have more base runners.

"From the wind-up, he was clean and then when he went to the stretch, he kind of fell off. Then again, it could have been a part of having some fatigue, too. He hasn't pitched into a third inning yet and we were getting him close to his pitch count."

Cashner, the Cubs' first-round pick in the 2008 draft from TCU, earned a late-season promotion to Daytona last season. He made his mark in the postseason, helping Daytona to the Florida State League championship by tossing six scoreless innings to go with 11 strikeouts. He allowed no hits and four walks, and topped out at 99 mph in one game, Chicago Scouting Director Tim Wilken said.

Against Lakeland Sunday, Cashner was consistently 92-94 mph and topped out at 95 mph.

"I wasn't trying to do too much," Cashner said. "I kind of got myself into a little trouble in that third inning. They (umpires) said I hit the guy, but I thought it went off the end of his bat and that's originally what they called it. Then, the umpire was asked to look at it and they called it a hit batsman. I got myself in trouble trying to get fine, walked the next guy and ended up giving up a base hit.

"The best thing I took from tonight was I came out of a bases-loaded, no-outs (jam) and only gave up one run. I even had the chance to get out of it with no runs, but I left the ball up a little bit and allowed (Kaiser) to hit the ball up. If I'd kept it down and gotten a groundball, I could have gotten out of it."

Cashner mostly stuck to fastballs and mixed in only a handful of breaking balls. He did not throw any changeups, he said.

"I didn't really think I needed my changeup," he explained. "A lot of guys were late on my fastball, so I didn't really see any need to throw any changeups. As I start to go deeper into games, I'll start throwing it a little earlier."

Cashner said his arm felt fine all night.

"Everything is good," Cashner said. "It's just going to take a little time to get back into shape. My arm feels great. I just need to get my legs under me a little more. I just need a few more weeks until my legs get really strong and that's what I need to work on right now." correspondent Corey Ann Dobridnia in Daytona Beach contributed to this report.

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