Cashner back at Wrigley to face Cubs

CHICAGO -- San Diego Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner will always have some Cubby blue in his blood as he pursues the excellence projected for him as Chicago’s first-round pick in 2008.

Traded for Anthony Rizzo in 2011, Cashner will start against his former team on Wednesday. Cashner had been a bullpen pitcher until recently being converted back to a rotation pitcher.

“This is a very special place,” Cashner said of Wrigley Field. “Babe Ruth sat in that same locker room I just left. You can’t deny the history of this place and the Cubs. I made my debut here so it will always be special in that aspect.”

When he was pitching for the Cubs he shuffled back and forth between the bullpen and starting. He had won a rotation spot out of spring training in 2011 before an suffering an elbow injury in his first start on a cold April day. It kept him on the shelf for most of the season.

“That was very tough to deal with but as a young pitcher you try to learn from the experience,” Cashner said. “I felt like I always wanted to start. I feel that’s where I can best help out a ballclub. I want to be the guy who is a horse and throws at least 200 innings a year. I just have to go out there and prove I can be the guy who can pitch nine innings and give the bullpen a day off.”

Cashner has started two games this season after pitching out of the bullpen as a long man at the start. He’s glad to be on the mound after suffering an injury just after making the Padres rotation in 2012 and then again this year, when he cut himself skinning a deer.

“In my third start (last year) I had an injury,” he said. “This year I had the thumb injury. I had surgery and took a while to get going. Now I feel lucky to be getting back to starting.”

The trade that sent Cashner to the Padres for Rizzo will be evaluated for many years to come. For now, it appears both teams are content with how the deal has worked out.

“He is a really good player,” Cashner said of Rizzo. “We are both in good positions to accomplish some things for our teams.”

Cashner will face the Cubs’ Scott Feldman on Wednesday evening.