Padres project recovering Cashner as starter

PEORIA, Ariz. -- If you were wondering what the Padres' plans are for pitcher Andrew Cashner this season, manager Bud Black offered something that sounded like a definitive word Friday.

"With Cash, if you're to break him down as a pitcher and project future potential, you can see a starter in the type of pitcher he is," Black said. "Let's explore the starting."

Cashner, who had surgery in December to repair a lacerated tendon in his right thumb, said Thursday he hopes to be ready for Opening Day. The Padres are watching his throwing program carefully early in camp.

There's a chance Cashner could throw off a mound by March 1, meaning he might not be too far behind everyone else in camp.

The Padres obtained Cashner from the Cubs last January with the intention of having him start, though he began the season as an eighth-inning specialist because the team needed it. He was 3-3 with a 3.67 ERA in 27 innings of relief.

The team later sent him to the Minor Leagues to get stretched out as a starter. He returned on June 9 and made five starts, going 0-1 with a 5.12 ERA. In his second start, Cashner took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Astros, but settled for a no-decision.

"He's got good delivery, good body, good arm action, three pitches -- fastball, breaking ball, change, all quality," Black said. "[Cashner] has ability with his fastball to pitch to both sides of the plate. He has the weapons to be a starting pitcher.

"You ask yourself, a guy who is able to get 18 to 24 outs … is that better than a guy who can get three?"