Cashner continues making case for Padres' rotation

Cashner continues making case for Padres' rotation

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Pitcher Andrew Cashner is making it tough for the Padres to name a fifth starter.

Cashner threw 72 pitches Tuesday, allowing two runs on three hits in four-plus innings against the Giants. He walked two and struck out four in his longest outing of the spring. Cashner faced one hitter to start the fifth inning before leaving.

"I think I threw the ball well in some counts," Cashner said. "I've never been able to throw a breaking ball in Arizona. But I threw some good breaking balls and changeups. I thought today was the best day so far as far as pitch execution."

That's good news as far as the Padres are concerned, especially considering that it was only last month when Cashner -- who had December surgery to repair a lacerated tendon in his right thumb -- was considered something of a long shot to be ready in time for Opening Day.

"I liked the good velocity, I liked that he got his pitch count up to the 70s and that he located his fastball pretty much for the most part," Padres manager Bud Black said.

"We like the fact that he's healthy. We'll continue to explore our pitching options."

Black said while the Padres ultimately envision Cashner as a starter, he's a candidate for a spot in the rotation and the bullpen. Tyson Ross is considered the other candidate for the No. 5 spot in the rotation.

The Padres won't need their fifth starter until April 6 in Colorado. The team breaks camp Thursday and heads to San Antonio for two exhibition games against the Rangers before going to New York on April 1 for Opening Day.

What's next for Cashner?

"I threw 72 today so the next time out, it's very reasonable to throw 90," Cashner said.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.