Cashner eager to face live batters

Rehabbing Chicago Cubs pitcher Andrew Cashner threw another bullpen session on Thursday as he prepares to throw a simulated game on Saturday in Atlanta.

"Today's bullpen was great," Cashner said. "It's getting better and better every time out, and I'll face live hitters on Saturday."

The 24-year-old Cashner first strained his rotator cuff on April 5 in his first major league start. He went on the disabled list on April 8, and after rehabbing the shoulder for six weeks, he reinjured the same area on May 17.

Manager Mike Quade said the combination of Cashner's youth and the fact that he's suffered the same injury twice in such a short period of time led to the Cubs' overly cautious rehab routine. Despite the slow process, Cashner said there was no doubt in his mind that he'd be pitching in the big leagues by September.

"I'm really antsy, but I don't have any control over anything right now, so it's just follow the program they have," Cashner said. "It is frustrating taking it a little slow, but at the same time they have the best interests in it for me, so I listen to them."

Quade was pleased that the youngster had a positive outlook on his return and was eager to pitch in 2011.

"It's a helluva lot better than a guy saying, ‘Well, maybe next year I'll be ready,'" Quade said. "You want him to be confident, excited to be coming back."

Quade added that he's been impressed with how all of his players have worked so hard to come back from the numerous injuries the team has been plagued by this season. In Cashner's case, Quade said that he not only committed to coming back, but becoming a better pitcher than he was when he initially got injured.

This season was supposed to be Cashner's first as a starter, as he spent the last four months of 2010 relieving for the Cubs. Despite only making one start this season, Cashner refused to say that it was a wasted year.

"I've learned a lot this year just from watching," Cashner said. "It's been frustrating, I haven't really wanted this to happen at all. I can't really control it, all I can do is build forward to next year. "