Andrew Cashner to start Opening Day for Padres

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Padres manager Bud Black announced earlier this evening that right-hander Andrew Cashner will start the team’s season opener against the Dodgers on March 30. It will be the first Opening Day assignment of his career.

Once a top pitching prospect with the Cubs, Cashner dealt with a bunch of injuries early on his career, but he finally began to realize his potential last season. After making a few early appearances out of the bullpen, he joined San Diego’s rotation in late April and posted a 3.04 ERA and 119/41 K/BB ratio in 165 2/3 innings over 26 starts. While the strikeout rate was lower than expected given his velocity, he missed more bats as the season moved along and posted a ground ball rate above 50 percent. He’s carrying some serious momentum into 2014.

Cashner is part of an interesting rotation in San Diego which also projects to include Ian Kennedy, Josh Johnson, Tyson Ross and Eric Stults. This team could surprise if things break right.

Oakland Athletics reverse course: will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.