SAN DIEGO -- Injured Padres pitchers Anthony Bass and Andrew Cashner were both in the clubhouse before Monday's series opener against the Cubs, after spending much of the past few weeks with the Padres' infamous "Breakfast Club," the group of injured players so numerous that they had to come in early in the mornings to get work in before the rest of the healthy roster came in to prepare for games.
That Bass and Cashner were afternoon arrivals is a sure sign of progress for the hurlers, who played catch before Monday's game and are scheduled for bullpen sessions Wednesday.
Manager Bud Black called to Bass as he left the field after throwing to ask how the session went. Smiling, Bass replied "Pain free. ... I've graduated from the Breakfast Club!"
Cashner felt the same way.
"Felt good," Cashner said. "Getting to be around baseball again, getting to see everyone, it's been good."
Cashner's return to afternoon baseball with the Padres corresponds to the Petco Park return of the man he was acquired for, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo. In his first season with the Padres, Cashner is 3-3 with a 3.44 ERA in 30 games (three starts), and was stretching into a starter after a stint in the bullpen before he landed on the DL on July 4 with a strained right lat.
Bass is on the DL retroactive to June 21 with right shoulder inflammation. He, like Cashner, was stretched into a starter this season after a 2011 campaign spent predominantly in the San Diego bullpen. He is 2-7 with a 4.70 ERA in 16 games (14 starts) in 2012.
According to Black, Monday was a good step for both as they look to return to the club before the end of the season.
"[Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley] mentioned that both those guys looked very good," Black said. "He said they both threw the ball free and easy."
Black added that if Wednesday's bullpen sessions go well, there is a good chance that both Bass and Cashner could be headed to Peoria, Ariz., to join the Padres' Arizona League affiliate.