MESA, Ariz. (AP) – Kerry Wood understands the comparisons but thinks they are unfair.
Andrew Cashner, just 24, is a touted young pitcher from Texas – just like Wood was more than a decade ago.
“Don’t do that to him,” Wood said. “But that’s what happens when you are from Texas and you throw hard.”
Back with the Cubs this year, Wood got a standing ovation Monday when he made his spring training debut during a 5-3 loss to a Milwaukee Brewers’ split squad.
After coming up to the majors as a reliever last season, Cashner is trying to earn a job as Chicago’s fifth starter. The 6-foot-6 right-hander with a 98 mph was the loser, allowing two runs, three hits and a walk in two innings.
“I was kind of rushing it in there and pulling the ball a little bit, but overall I thought my stuff was really good,” Cashner said. “I threw some good curveballs today and that is something I have been working on. Some good changeups, too. It was the first time out and didn’t want to try to do much. I was just trying to locate my fastball today, and I don’t think I did a very good job of it.”
After making nine starts in the minor leagues last year, Cashner compiled a 4.80 ERA in 53 games with the Cubs. Chicago manager Mike Quade said at the very least Cashner will return to the bullpen, but he wanted to give him a chance to start.
“We’re going to find out,” Quade said. “From the standpoint of the future of this organization, if he can be a high-end starter, if he can be a top-line starter and we don’t find that out, it would probably be a mistake. There’s no guarantees, but we think he has the stuff, the makeup and the willingness.”
One of the other candidates for the fifth-starter spot is Randy Wells, who started the game and allowed two hits in two scoreless innings.
“Other than getting behind a couple of hitters I made some good pitches,” said Wells, who went 8-14 with a 4.26 ERA in 32 starts last season. “I stayed away from the walks, something I have been really focusing on, and I made them swing the bat.”
Wood allowed two runs and three hits in one inning. He used a tight curveball to strike out two.
Milwaukee used a defensive shift on left-handed-hitting Carlos Pena in his two at-bats.
“I hit a bullet up the middle and I am running to first base, ready to make the turn and I was like, ‘Where did that guy come from?’ ” Pena said. “I got shifted a lot, and you have to do what you do. When you start trying to go to left field instead of driving the ball to right field, you go away from your strength and they got you.”
Ryan Braun doubled, made a nice running catch and threw out a runner at the plate. Carlos Gomez added a hit, run and stolen base in two plate appearances for the Brewers, and Mark Kotsay had a RBI single.
Winner Tim Dillard allowed one run and two hits in two innings. Reed Johnson had two singles for the Cubs, and Zealous Wheeler had two hits for Milwaukee.
NOTES: The Cubs made three errors for the second straight game. “We need to find a way to put crooked numbers under the left side of the scoreboard under innings and not on the far end under errors,” Quade said. “We have work to do.” … The Cubs have sold out six regular-season home games: opening day on April 1, the June 17-19 series against the Yankees, July 2 against the White Sox and Aug. 20 against St. Louis.
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