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Cashner on the move - to Iowa, for now
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 5/27/2010 8:02 PM

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In a move that has "imminent call-up" written all over it, the Cubs have moved top pitching prospect Andrew Cashner to the bullpen at their Class AAA Iowa farm club.

It's possible Cashner could get a call-up to the big leagues next week when the Cubs are in Pittsburgh and they move Carlos Zambrano from the bullpen to the rotation.

Cashner worked 1 inning of relief Thursday against Salt Lake, giving up 3 hits and 1 unearned run in 1 inning. He struck out two and walked no one. As a starter, he was 3-0 with an 0.95 ERA.

At the same time, the Cubs moved right-hander Jay Jackson from the Iowa bullpen back to the rotation. He started Thursday and went 4 innings, giving up 4 hits and 2 runs.

The Cubs made no announcement of the pitcher flip, even listing Cashner as their starting pitcher in the minor-league report they give to the Chicago media. They later acknowledged it to Chicago reporters, who read about it in the Des Moines Register.

Until Thursday, the Cubs had said Cashner needed innings and that he would remain a starter. That only added to Thursday's intrigue.

"I don't know about the need for innings," said farm director Oneri Fleita. "If you look at guys just in his (draft) class, of 2008, that are already in the major leagues ... You can go back in time and look at a lot of guys, how much time before they got here. You're talking about a kid who pitched in an established college program (TCU). He went and did it in Daytona. He's been in Double-A. Now he's in Triple-A. He's 3-0. He's the pitcher of the week. What he's doing isn't by accident. You have to be in command of your pitches and pitching, not just throwing."

The Cubs want both Cashner and Jackson to be prepped for possible bullpen duty with the big club.

Also in Thursday's Iowa game, catcher Chris Robinson and manager Ryne Sandberg were ejected for arguing with the home-plate umpire. Reports said Sandberg slammed his helmet down and kicked dirt, but not in the direction of the umpire.

Ramirez update: Third baseman Aramis Ramirez had a cortisone shot in his left hand earlier this week. He's still questionable for Friday's series opener against the Cardinals.

He has been bothered by pain between his thumb and index finger. He took soft-toss batting practice Thursday and said he would take batting practice off the coaches Friday.

The Cardinals are coming: The Cubs play the Cardinals for the first time Friday, and it will be their first chance to gain ground directly against St. Louis. So far, the Cubs have been big-market underachievers, chasing both the Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds.

"Look, we basically have hung around," said manager Lou Piniella. "Four or five games isn't much. It's a question now of consistency. It's a question of winning with a little more regularity, getting ourselves to .500 and over. Until that happens, there's no sense of us worrying about the Cardinals or anybody else. If we can get ourselves to the point where we stabilize it at .500 and slowly start creeping up from there, we can look to make some noise. But right now, we've got an uphill climb still."