Cashner feels good after facing batters

Although the Cubs may have to do without Carlos Zambrano for the remainder of the season, another opening-week starter may be back on his way to the staff.

Andrew Cashner threw to live hitters in a 21-pitch session on Saturday. He faced Tyler Colvin, Koyie Hill and Blake DeWitt. It was the first time he's faced live batters since mid-May. Cashner reinjured his rotator cuff on May 17 while attempting to come back from the injury he originally incurred April 5 in his first major league start.

"I threw 23 warmup pitches, then rested and threw about 20 pitches to hitters," Cashner said. "I think it went really well."

Cashner will face hitters again next week in Houston.

"I threw all my pitches," he said. "They didn't know what was coming."

It's unknown whether Cashner will return next season as a starter, but for the rest of 2011 he'll work out of the bullpen if he returns to the Cubs.

"I've got another bullpen on Tuesday," he said. "I'll throw 30-35 pitches, and I guess we'll see what happens from there."

Cashner said there was no discomfort in his arm during or after throwing. The Cubs may ask him to throw in the Arizona Fall League after the major league season ends.