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.

Cardinals shut down Carlos Martínez for two weeks due to shoulder issue

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosh reports that the Cardinals are shutting down pitcher Carlos Martínez from throwing for two weeks because his shoulder strength isn’t where it should have been at this point. Langosch added that an MRI showed no structural damage in Martínez’s right shoulder.

Interestingly, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak didn’t sound too happy with Martínez offseason training regimen. Per Mark Saxon of The Athletic, Mozeliak said, “Obviously, there’s a history with Carlos’ shoulder and it would be probably in everybody’s best interest if he maintained a constant or perpetual approach to that program.”

Martínez, 27, battled oblique and shoulder injuries last year. He accrued just 118 2/3 innings, making just 18 starts. He was moved to the bullpen when he returned from the disabled list in August and finished out the season in that role. Still, Martínez managed a 3.11 ERA with 117 strikeouts and 60 walks.

Langosch reported last week that the Cardinals were considering using Martínez in relief again in 2019. The latest news may push the Cardinals to indeed use Martínez out of the bullpen once again. He will be reevaluated in early March, but there is a chance he won’t be ready for Opening Day.