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Monday, May 31, 2010
Cubs' Cashner gets call to majors

By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com

PITTSBURGH -- Chicago Cubs left-handed reliever John Grabow was put on the 15-day disabled list on Monday with a left MCL sprain, and in a corresponding move, the team has selected the contract of top pitching prospect Andrew Cashner from their Triple-A Iowa roster.

Cashner needed to make only one pitch to enjoy a successful major league debut. Cashner, who learned late Sunday night he was being promoted from Triple-A Iowa, arrived in Pittsburgh in time to retire Ronny Cedeno on a popup in the eighth inning of the Pirates' 2-1 victory on Monday.

"Nothing makes it any easier, but definitely the nerves will be down [the next time]," Cashner said of pitching in a major league game. "I was a little nervous out there. But I was able to control my emotions and make a pitch."

Cashner called it "a real big moment," and his parents were able to watch it after hastily catching a flight to Pittsburgh.

Cashner, a 23-year-old first round pick (19th overall) of the 2008 draft had been a starter at Triple-A until last Thursday. Since then he has thrown two scoreless innings out of the bullpen, one last Thursday and one on Saturday.

"He's got a good young arm," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said before Monday's game. "He went down to Double-A and started at Triple-A 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. Hopefully he will develop into a nice later-inning pitcher for us."

At Tennessee, Cashner was 3-1 with a 2.75 ERA in six starts. In seven Triple-A appearances, he was 3-0 with an 0.86 ERA.

Asked if he would hesitate to move Cashner to that much-needed right-handed setup role, Piniella said: "No, not at all. Not at all. Basically, we're hoping he will take [Carlos] Zambrano's spot and use him the way we were using Zambrano."

Zambrano returns to the starting rotation on Wednesday against the Pirates.

Cashner was a closer at Texas Christian. Cashner is projected as a closer eventually or possibly a top-of-the-rotation starter.

"He's got electric stuff," Cubs starter Randy Wells said. "Hopefully he takes off and becomes a superstar."

Grabow missed time earlier this month with the same knee problem. The veteran pitcher, who signed a two-year contract with the Cubs in the offseason, has been ineffective most of the 2010 season. Grabow's role was to be the primary setup man for closer Carlos Marmol. That role has been taken over by Sean Marshall.

Bruce Levine covers baseball for ESPN 1000 and ESPNChicago.com. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.