Had the 15-day disabled list remained in place, things could have been drastically different. Manager Andy Green hypothesized that Cahill would've "fought tooth and nail" to make his start and avoid a DL stint. The Padres would've been faced with the decision on whether to lose a pitcher for 15 days or play, essentially, with 24 men until Cahill recovered.
Instead, Green has a 10-day disabled list to work with this season. Cahill returned Sunday and allowed four runs over 5 2/3 innings, striking out eight. Now that he's seen it in action, Green lauded Major League Baseball's decision to switch.
"It would've been a very, very tough decision," Green said before Sunday's game. "That's the nice part about this DL. Players, instead of missing half a month, can think, 'OK, I'm just missing one start,' and they change their mindset to, 'You're right, it isn't best for me to make this start.' That's the way we're looking at it. We've been able to care for two pitchers that in the past we might not have been able to care for."
The other pitcher is right-hander Luis Perdomo, who missed his scheduled start Wednesday as he battles shoulder inflammation. Like Cahill, the Padres are hopeful that Perdomo returns in fewer than 15 days. Before Sunday's game, he threw his first bullpen session since sustaining the injury.
Green said that ultimately, player health is paramount. And the 10-day DL only helps.
"It has its advantages in being able to care for the player better," Green said. "You're getting more of the details of how they actually feel instead of somebody hiding something, then what is a small problem being exacerbated when they go on the mound and try to pitch through it."
Quackenbush sent to El Paso
To clear space on the roster for Cahill, the Padres optioned Kevin Quackenbush to Triple-A El Paso. He had replaced fellow right-hander Jake Esch on the roster before Friday's game.
Essentially, Quackenbush was serving as bullpen support after Zach Lee's 5 1/3-inning spot start Wednesday in Colorado. Now Lee is once again available out of the 'pen.
Quackenbush made one appearance, tossing a scoreless eighth inning in Friday's 5-2 loss to the Braves.
Bethancourt returns to Atlanta
Christian Bethancourt spent eight seasons in the Braves' organization exclusively as a catcher. Now, in his second season with the Padres, Bethancourt has transitioned into a super-utility role in which he has served as a pitcher, catcher, outfielder and pinch-hitter.
He took the mound in Sunday's game, allowing two hits and an inherited runner to score in the bottom of the eighth. Ultimately, his own line was clean: one inning, no runs.
Bethancourt, who was never asked by the Braves to experiment with pitching, said he was happy to be back in Atlanta before the game.
"It's always good to see friends, guys from the other team that I grew up playing with in the Minor League system, some of the coaches," Bethancourt said. "But I'm on the opposite side now. It only matters to me what the Padres are doing."
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.