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Saturday, July 2, 2011
Andrew Cashner hopes for quick return

By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- The good news for right hander Andrew Cashner is that he's ready to begin rehab for the rotator cuff strain on his right shoulder. The bad news for the young pitcher is that he'll have to wait about 10 days to begin a light throwing program.

Cubs team orthopedic doctor Stephen Gryzlo looked at recent tests on Cashner's right shoulder and told the pitcher all the soreness isn't out of the injury as of yet.

"It's not really too long. It's just 10 more days," Cashner said. "I'm not really excited about it. But that's the way it goes. I can only move on from that point. I just can't control what's going on in my shoulder."

The Cubs' fifth starter to begin the year, Cashner originally hurt his shoulder April 5 in his first and only start this season. He went on the disabled list April 8.

Six weeks later as he was rehabbing the shoulder, he felt a twinge in the same area behind his right rotator cuff and the Cubs shut him down immediately.

"It's a good thing they have been cautious," Cashner said. "I've already had one big setback. Waiting 10 more days in the grand scheme of things really isn't too bad. I'm looking forward to throwing. It's just a little later than I wanted it to be."

Starting from scratch again, the Cubs will make sure Cashner takes his time getting back on the mound in the big leagues.

"I don't think I'll have any problems mentally," Cashner said. "I've always been pretty strong in that area. The problem is just having spring training all over again."

Sept. 1 is probably a realistic return date for Cashner.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said Saturday that the team will allow Cashner time to recover.

"He's come along fine," Hendry told ESPN 1000's "Talkin' Baseball." "He's gonna travel with the club this week to Washington and Pittsburgh then when he gets back from that, we'll begin his throwing program again. Obviously, in the situation we're in, we're not going to rush him back in the next two or three weeks. I feel very confident you'll see him in the big leagues in the second half of the season."

When he does return, Cashner may be pitching out of the bullpen the rest of the year.

"I don't really know about starting," Cashner said. "It might be better [to pitch out of the bullpen]. I'm up for whatever they want me to do. I'm hoping to be back by late July or early August."

That projection by Cashner may be too optimistic, considering he hasn't thrown a baseball in six weeks.

Regardless of this year's setbacks, the Cubs remain optimistic about Cashner's career prospects.

"This kid has a great future," Hendry said. " [The injury] is a shame for everyone involved, not just our record in the standings but for his career. I think this is a kid that might've been our fourth or fifth starter this year and down the road might have been your one or two starter. It was quite a setback for him and that's really where you have to put the focus on, not worry about what it did to the team. But at his young age you hope he is going to be fine and have a great career, which he is very capable of."

The Cubs drafted Cashner with the 19th pick of the first round out of TCU in 2008. The Texas native split time in both relief and starting roles in the minors. He was 2-6 with 4.80 ERA in 53 games out of the bullpen for the Cubs in 2010. Cashner went back into the starting rotation this spring.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs for ESPNChicago.com.