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Cashner rehab delayed as doctors preach caution

Updated: July 5, 2011 2:28PM

Andrew Cashner didn’t get the news he wanted from team doctors this week, but the Cubs’ prized young pitcher said he has “no doubt’’ he’ll return from the disabled list this season, even if that means in a relief role.

Cashner, who has been on the disabled list since suffering a shoulder injury in his first start of the season, had his anticipated rehab program pushed back another 10 days after his latest MRI exam showed his ­rotator cuff wasn’t quite healed.

“They said it’s about 90 percent healed. They’re just being cautious,’’ said Cashner, who hoped to start a throwing program this week ­after he was shut down more than six weeks ago because of a setback. “I’m a little frustrated just because my arm’s not feeling the way I’d like it to, but it’s only 10 more days of no throwing.

Cashner is scheduled to join the team on its upcoming road trip, then be re-evaluated at the All-Star break. His return could be pushed into September with the latest delay.

“There’s no doubt in my mind I’ll pitch again this year,’’ he said. “I’ve worked way too hard to not pitch this year. The last six weeks in Arizona I’ve busted my butt, and I’m looking forward to pitching [in ­rehab] in July.’’

After a successful finish to his rookie season as a late-inning reliever, Cashner was groomed as a starter this spring. But he’s expected to be in the bullpen if he returns this year.

“I haven’t been told anything yet, but I imagine,’’ he said. “I think I’d have a chance next year to come back as a starter, but that’s a long ways off.’’

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