Cashner delivers encouraging return from DL

Cashner delivers encouraging return from DL

SAN FRANCISCO -- Andrew Cashner spent the past two weeks on the disabled list, but the hard-throwing Padres right-hander was able-bodied for a big chunk of his time away from the mound.

On May 8, Cashner went down with a strained right hamstring. Within about a week, however, he was feeling 100 percent -- and could have taken the ball earlier if rules permitted him to do so. Instead, Cashner had to wait until Tuesday's start in San Francisco, where he looked relatively sharp, allowing three runs on four hits over six innings in an 8-2 Padres loss.

In a perfect world, Cashner wouldn't have gone on the disabled list in the first place. But the Padres -- in the midst of 21 games in 21 days -- were scrambling for starters after a doubleheader at Wrigley Field and needed roster space.

Having Cashner among a growing number of inactive players wasn't ideal. But it did allow him to hone some of his mechanics.

"I've been working on my slider since I've been on the DL," Cashner said. "I thought my slider was pretty good tonight. Just got to make better pitches in the sixth. I thought a couple balls fell in, but for the most part [I'm] pretty pleased with where I'm at."

Cashner sustained the hamstring injury while running first-to-home in a start against the Mets. He felt some soreness in both hamstrings -- more so in the right one -- over the next few days. But that dissipated quickly, and Cashner hasn't felt any lingering effects for about a week.

Nonetheless, the Giants tested those hamstrings right away. Both Jarrett Parker and Gregor Blanco dropped down attempts at bunt hits. Cashner was up for the challenge, making a pair of spry plays.

"I felt like they were kind of bunting on me because they knew I was on the DL," Cashner said. "I bounced off the mound pretty well. ... I'm always ready for anything. I think I've always fielded my position pretty well."

Aside from a pair of one-run outings in mid-April, Cashner has had a tough go of it this season. Efficiency has eluded him, and his ERA has hovered around five.

In that regard, the Padres got some positive returns on Tuesday. Cashner did allow three runs, but he managed to limit his pitch count to 82 and would have remained in the game if the situation in the top of the seventh didn't call for a pinch-hitter.

"He battled well," said Padres manager Andy Green. "I think his ball-strike ratio probably wasn't what it normally is for him. He typically commands the zone very well. I chalk that up to first time back on the mound in competition in 15 days.

"I thought he battled well, got off the mound well, fielded bunts well."

The Giants needed an overturned call at the plate to score their first run against Cashner in the third. Then they plated two more in the sixth -- the big blow a go-ahead RBI double from Buster Posey, who would score later in the frame on Brandon Crawford's single.

Posey has always hit Cashner well (12-for-28). With Joe Panik on second after a free pass and a groundout, the Padres had an empty base, but elected not to walk the Giants slugger (as they would do in the eighth). Posey made Cashner pay, roping a curveball into the left-field corner.

"The walk to Panik to start an inning and then the double to Posey, kind of the curveball first pitch to Posey -- those are probably just a couple things he'd like to take back today," said Green. "Other than that, I thought it was a pretty good outing for him today."

The sixth inning aside, the Padres are encouraged to see another player return from injury. Cashner is the third player to come off the DL for the Padres in the past week, joining Yangervis Solarte and Alexi Amarista.

"Our rotation's been doing a good job, but if we get somebody back with Cashner's caliber, that's big for us," said center fielder Jon Jay. "He did a really good job tonight, but we just weren't able to score him runs."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.