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Cubs’ Andrew Cashner dealt major setback, could be out till mid-July

Carlos Penhits three-run home run first inning Tuesday night Cincinnati. Errors wiped out lead against Reds.  |  Al

Carlos Pena hits a three-run home run in the first inning Tuesday night in Cincinnati. Errors wiped out the lead against the Reds. | Al Behrman~AP

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Updated: August 31, 2011 12:37AM



CINCINNATI — Cubs starting pitcher Andrew Cashner could be sidelined until after the All-Star break after aggravating his
strained rotator cuff, which originally put him on the disabled list six weeks ago.

An MRI exam Tuesday in Chicago revealed the same inflammation in the same spot as Cashner’s first MRI exam showed in early April, prompting the Cubs to shut him down again and put
his recovery process back at
square one.

Until feeling pain Monday while warming up for a scheduled extended-spring start, Cashner hadn’t had a setback and was expected to start a minor-league rehab assignment sometime this weekend.

‘‘I feel real bad for him,’’ general manager Jim Hendry said. ‘‘He’s worked real hard. His rehab’s gone really well up to this point. Obviously, the main goal will be just to continue to get it right so [he can] continue to have a bright future.’’

Cashner, the Cubs’ first-round draft pick in 2008, debuted last May and was an effective late-inning setup man by the end of the season.

He spent spring training building strength and stamina for the fifth-starter job and pitched well in his first start April 5 until being forced from that game in the sixth inning because of the shoulder pain.

The Cubs are 2-9 behind fourth- and fifth-starters since Cashner and Randy Wells went on the DL at the same time. Three fill-in starters have combined for a 7.50 ERA, even after veteran Doug Davis’ strong 51/3 innings in his Cubs debut Saturday.

Wells pitched 32/3 innings (one earned run) in the first of two anticipated minor-league rehab starts Tuesday for Class A Peoria. He could be poised for a return to the rotation during the next homestand after a start for Class AAA Iowa on Sunday.

Warming trend

Don’t look now, but Carlos Pena is suddenly starting to look like the $10 million first baseman the Cubs thought they were getting when they signed him last December.

Pena’s three-run homer in the first inning Tuesday night — which came on his 33rd birthday — was already his fifth homer of the month after a homerless April.

He added two more hits and a walk against the Reds, which gives him a .333 (15-for-45) average and 12 RBI since his .159, five-RBI April.

Roster moves

After optioning struggling outfielder Tyler Colvin (.113) to Class AAA Iowa after Monday night’s game, the Cubs made three more roster moves Tuesday, including the promotion from AAA of speedy outfielder Tony Campana to take Colvin’s roster spot.

They also optioned reliever Marcos Mateo (5.76) to AAA one night after he contributed to a sixth-inning meltdown in the Cubs’ 7-4 loss to the Reds.

Left-hander Scott Maine, who made his big-league debut last summer, was recalled from Iowa, where he spent time as the closer, earning seven saves.

‘‘That’s what I would like to be doing,’’ Maine said of closing, ‘‘but someone’s got that job.’’

Notes

Hendry on the demotion of Colvin, who hit 20 homers as a rookie last year: ‘‘He just needs to play and get back to where he was a year ago. . . . I think, long-term, he is an every-day guy in the big leagues. Nobody’s down on him for the future. Nobody’s looking to get rid of him. It’s just one of those growing-pain-type things.’’

† Hendry on Mateo, who had a 5.74 ERA in 20 games and allowed three runs (two inherited) to score in the span of his first three pitches Monday: ‘‘I didn’t think he was ready to pitch at the level we needed him to [Monday] night. He’s got to show a little more consistency than he has.’’



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