Cashner returns with efficient spring debut

MESA, Ariz. -- Eleven pitches. Eleven strikes.

Andrew Cashner made his spring debut with precision approaching perfection Sunday, returning to the mound for the first time since offseason surgery to repair a ligament in his right thumb.

That ailment appeared to be a distant memory, as Cashner sandwiched two ground balls around a strikeout. The 26-year-old right-hander mostly threw fastballs but was able to mix in his slider and his changeup, and he said he's eager to get back on the mound as soon as possible.

"Ready to roll," said Cashner of his debut. "I'm definitely ready for more of a workload, but it will come with time. I did have surgery, so they're just looking out for my best interests."

Cashner faced infielders Christian Villanueva and Alberto Gonzalez and pitcher Travis Wood in sequence Sunday, and he peppered the strike zone with power pitches. The former first-round pick said that he was pleased with his location but said his command could have been better.

The Padres still have three weeks before the conclusion of Spring Training, which means that Cashner has plenty of time to get more innings under his belt. San Diego has been bringing him along slowly in order to protect him, but an encouraging outing or two could change the equation.

"Cash was good. It looked like he was throwing the ball like we think he can," said manager Bud Black. "I didn't see any signs of thumb, which he has shown through his workouts. It hasn't been bothering him at all. He threw a couple breaking balls [and] a lot of fastballs. It was encouraging."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.