Padres ace Cashner plays left field for one batter

Padres ace Cashner plays left field for one batter

WASHINGTON -- Without a doubt, Andrew Cashner does his best work on the mound for the Padres. But on Thursday night, he traveled a little outside his comfort zone.

At the start of the 11th inning of the Padres' game against the Nationals, Cashner, the ace of the team's starting rotation, wasn't bundled up on the bench on a chilly night at Nationals Park.

No, he was in left field.

Cashner jogged out to left field for the first time in his career, though it was a brief appearance. The Padres pulled off a double-switch after reliever Tim Stauffer got the first out of the inning, as Tommy Medica replaced Cashner, who was warmly received in the dugout by his teammates.

The Padres went on to win, 4-3, in 12 innings.

So what was the logic of sticking your Opening Day starter in the field?

For starters, the Padres didn't want to burn a position player in an extra-inning game. Also, manager Bud Black didn't want lefty reliever Alex Torres, warming up in the bullpen, to face righty Jayson Werth. So after Stauffer got Werth out, Medica came in when Torres did.

Starting left fielder Seth Smith left the game in the 11th with a right groin strain.

As it turns out, Cashner didn't have much to do.

"Nothing ... crickets," he said.

In parts of five seasons in the big leagues, Cashner has never appeared in a game anywhere other than pitcher.

"I always wanted to play a position in the big leagues. It was a dream come true," he said.

Black got a kick out of Cashner's reaction to going in the field.

"Cash was fired up," Black said. "He looked good out there."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.