Cashner Arrives In Style

CHICAGO—Well, that was easy.

Andrew Cashner, a heralded pitching prospect, made his major league debut against Pittsburgh May 31 and needed just one 95 mph pitch to retire infielder Ronny Cedeno in a 2-1 loss at PNC Park.

The rest of his career doesn't figure to be so simple, but his following outings were impressive enough that the Cubs were thinking of making him an eighth inning set-up man sooner rather than later. He threw seven scoreless innings in his next five appearances and his fastball was hitting 98 mph. The righthander coupled his slider and curve to make his fastball even more effective.

"He's got a good young arm," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "He went down to Double-A (Tennessee) and started at Triple-A (Iowa) and pitched well at both classifications. So he's here, and we're going to use him in the middle to get him started just to get his feet wet."

The Cubs bullpen had more than its share of problems prior to Cashner's callup. But the 2008 19th overall pick out of Texas Christian was doing so well as a starter in the minor leagues (6-1, 2.05 in 57 total minor league innings) that some fans were grumbling about converting him back to the bullpen, where he thrived in college. 

The Cubs hope to avoid a repeat of the same problems they encountered with Jeff Samardzija, a starter who has struggled since being rushed to the majors as a reliever in 2008 based on need. He quickly climbed the organization's ladder thanks to effective work as a starter and a reliever. The knock on the Cubs is that in 2008, they were grooming righthander Jeff Samardzija as a starter and promoted him to the major league club as a reliever based on need. After a solid start, he struggled in the majors and some blame his shifting back-and-forth from starter to reliever as a reason for the downfall.

Even Cubs general manager Jim Hendry admitted that members of the organization are discussing if Cashner's future will be as a starter or in the pen and there isn't a clear answer yet.

As for the 23-year-old? He's just happy to be in Chicago, no matter what his role is.
"I like doing both," Cashner said. "It doesn't really bother me (going to the pen)."


• The Cubs obviously didn't land Bryce Harper, the 2010 draft's overall first pick. But they got someone close to him. In the 26th round, the Cubs took his older brother, Bryan, a lefthander and a teammate of Bryce's at the JC of Southern Nevada.

• In the sixth round, the Cubs took center fielder Ivan DeJesus, a high schooler from Puerto Rico. But there is no nepotism with that pick. He is not related to Cubs first-base coach Ivan DeJesus.