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Cashner’s workload will be monitored

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

MESA, Ariz. — So Andrew Cashner is the fifth starter. Now what?

The Cubs’ top young pitcher has done enough this spring to indicate he’ll succeed in his new role. But how deep into the season? For how many innings?

The former college closer spent most of last season in the Cubs’ bullpen. And no matter how well he pitches, his workload will be closely watched after never having pitched more than 1111/3 innings in a season. In fact, his three-year professional total is only 1771/3.

“It’s more so based on the number of pitches and how hard he’s working each game vs. the number of innings,’’ pitching coach Mark Riggins said. “Also, it’s how a guy bounces back. Some guys can handle a heavy workload and recover in four days, and some guys don’t recover, as well. He recovers very well. . . .

“But obviously we get to midseason, and we’ve got to see where his innings are. We’re constantly watching that.’’

As the Cubs’ minor-league pitching coordinator until his promotion this season, Riggins oversaw Cashner’s original transition to starter in the minors in 2009.

Riggins also cites numerous studies about pitchers’ workloads and risks associated with building high innings totals, whether it’s a veteran coming off an injury or a young kid. He said Cashner’s profile bodes well. The Cubs might still look for places to skip him in the rotation as the season goes on.


Right-hander Angel Guzman, the Cubs’ best reliever in 2009 who’s trying to beat long odds to return from extensive shoulder surgery, pitched in a game Monday for the first time since ’09. On a strict 20-pitch count, he lasted only two-thirds of an inning because of sloppy play behind him but held up.

◆ Jeff Baker, who has been sidelined for much of the last week with a tight hamstring, is scheduled to start today in the Cubs’ last Cactus League game.

◆ Catcher Welington Castillo was optioned to Class AAA Iowa, and the Cubs have put non-roster catcher Max Ramirez on waivers (in hopes of sending him to minor-league camp), officially finalizing their 25-man roster.

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