We’ve already speculated that, with Kerry Wood setting up Carlos Marmol from the right side, Andrew Cashner would get a chance to move from the pen to the rotation (where he could be vastly more valuable to the Cubs). And it sounds like that may very well be the case.
But that might not even be the best part of Wood’s return to the Cubs for Cashner — who, like Wood, is a tall, lanky Texan with an exceptional fastball who was a first-round draft pick of the Cubs.
‘‘I’m really excited. He’s a guy I’ve been watching play my whole life,’’ said Cashner, who should expect a call from new pitching coach Mark Riggins about a pre-spring throwing program designed for a starter. ‘‘I’ve always been compared to him and always enjoyed watching him pitch, and we both have the same kind of stuff — he has better stuff. I’m looking forward to getting to pick his brain a little bit.’’
Cashner’s taking nothing for granted, and the Cubs aren’t guaranteeing him a starting job. But if he can master command of his secondary pitches at a major-league level, baseball evaluators consider him as a front-of-the-rotation prospect.
If nothing else, he figures to be the first, biggest beneficiary of Wood signing among holdover Cubs. Chicago Sun-Times.
Cashner’s no lock to crack the rotation, but he’s got the stuff – if thrown consistently – to make it. There are two rubs, however: (1) there’s still not, technically, a spot for him in the rotation right now (Zambrano, Dempster, Wells, Gorzelanny, Silva – again, technically); and (2) Cashner threw just over 100 innings in 2009, and just over 110 in 2010. He’s not ready to throw 200 innings as a starter on the big league level. That is not to say he can’t be a starter for the Cubs this year he’s just not likely to make 32 starts.