Cashner's Success Could Tempt Cubs





CHICAGO—Righthander Andrew Cashner was a reliever for Texas Christian when the Cubs drafted in the first round in 2008.

He figured he might be groomed as a reliever, but the Cubs brass had other plans. They left the door open to him becoming a starter.

After doing a little of both in 2008, he made 24 starts in 2009. This season, he roared out of the gates as a starter for Double-A Tennessee.

And that caused some speculation that the 23-year-old would be called up to the parent club in mid-April to . . . be a relief pitcher.

The first two weeks of the Cubs' season saw several late-inning bullpen meltdowns. Because it's not easy to just go out and get a reliever so early in the season, media speculation was that the Cubs were close to bringing up Cashner, who had a solid spring training in addition to his hot start with the Smokies.

Cubs skipper Lou Piniella laughed it off, joking that he learns more from the newspapers than he does from his front office. But make no mistake about it, the front office is learning a lot more about Cashner.

Cashner opened the season striking out the first seven batters he faced against Mississippi. He struck out 10 batters in that start but also gave up three runs.
His second outing went even better as Cashner threw six no-hit innings with 10 strikeouts.

"He kept the ball down, had a good offspeed pitch and slider," Smokies manager Bill Dancy told reporters after the game. "He pitched ahead. The job he did was unbelievable."

"When I got two strikes on a hitter, my goal was to go ahead and put them away," Cashner told reporters after the contest.

Oh, and he added two singles to help his offense.

The 6-foot-6, 210-pound Cashner possesses a top slider and decent fastball. Control has been an issue in the past, but he walked just two batters in his first two starts this year.

Cubbyhole

• Jason Dubois would rather be up in the majors, but as long as he is still playing for Triple-A Iowa, he has a chance to make history. After an April 15 home run, it marked his 71st career homer for the I-Cubs. He is 19 homers away from Iowa's all-time record, set by Joe Hicks.

• Low Class A Peoria third baseman Matt Cerda drew 11 walks in the Chiefs' first 14 games while hitting .314/.435/.431.