NEW YORK -- In December, Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner had surgery to repair a lacerated tendon in his right thumb, the results of a hunting accident when a friend accidentally cut him while the two were dressing meat.
The initial prognosis was that Cashner would not only miss Opening Day, but would need three months before he could start pitching again.
"Initially, they thought he'd be pitching in May," said Padres manager Bud Black.
Cashner was never satisfied with that projection, which is why he pushed himself during rehabilitation and then again in Spring Training. He ended up making the 25-man Opening Day roster.
"I definitely pushed it on the rehab; I was going five days a week and was doing my best to get back. I was working with a thumb therapist every day, doing my part to get back on the field," Cashner said.
On Wednesday, the hard-throwing right-hander made his 2013 debut, tossing 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Clayton Richard in an 8-4 loss to the Mets at Citi Field.
Sitting in front his locker in the visiting clubhouse, Cashner sounded somewhat grateful and fulfilled that he was able to accelerate his return, as he surprised just about everyone in the organization other than himself.
"I think a lot of [making up ground] was before I got to Arizona. Obviously, it doesn't look good on my part what happened. It's unfortunate," Cashner said. "I wanted to show everyone I would be ready."
Cashner was in the running for the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation, though the team wasn't able to get him fully stretched out to throw five or more innings. Also, Tyson Ross, who won the fifth spot, was so good in camp that it made the decision to add Cashner to the bullpen that much easier.
"I think it was going to be real close with the rotation. I always thought I had a good chance of making the bullpen," Cashner said.
The Padres still envision Cashner as a starting pitcher, and that opportunity will likely come during the season, even if the team has to do what it did in 2012 and send him to the Minor Leagues to build his pitch count and endurance.
"I don't know. That's been the plan that's been told to me, but anything can happen during the season," Cashner said. "I'm just looking forward to the opportunity to pitch."
Alonso's arm injury minor, according to trainer
NEW YORK -- The Padres, who had their share of injury-related news in Spring Training, got a big scare during Wednesday's loss to the Mets.
First baseman Yonder Alonso appeared to have hurt his left arm when he came off the bag to make a swipe tag on Collin Cowgill in the fifth inning on what wound up being a throwing error by third baseman Jedd Gyorko.
Alonso immediately clutched his arm.
"Not good," said Padres manager Bud Black. "You think worst-case scenario. It looked like it might be a shoulder issue. But when I went out there, he said it was his elbow."
After working for a few minutes with trainer Paul Navarro, who quickly put Alonso through a handful of strength tests to determine if there was an injury, Alonso's pain started to subside. He ended up staying in the game and was in the starting lineup on Thursday.
"I woke up today and it was good," Alonso said. "I was a little scared for a second. But when Paulie went out and started playing with it, I knew it would be fine."
The Padres are already without third baseman Chase Headley for what will likely be most of April, if not longer, while infielder Logan Forsythe is sidelined indefinitely with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Two other players -- pitcher Casey Kelly and Minor League outfielder Rymer Liriano -- needed reconstructive elbow surgery in Spring Training.
The last thing the Padres needed was another significant injury. That's why Black felt the team dodged a bullet Wednesday.
"Those things don't look good when they happen," Black said.
Quentin sits to give non-regulars a start
NEW YORK -- Left fielder Carlos Quentin didn't get the start Thursday against the Mets, though manager Bud Black said it wasn't entirely because the team wanted to keep him off his right knee.
Quentin, who had minor surgery in October on the knee, aggravated his knee in Spring Training and didn't play in his first Cactus League game until March 26.
Instead, Black said he wanted to get some of his non-regulars into the lineup. That meant veteran Mark Kotsay starting in left field for the series finale at Citi Field.
"You've got to use your entire roster," Black said. "I thought that this was an opportunity to get Kotsay a start. You don't want them disconnected from game action for too long."
The team figures to give Quentin rest on occasion, and he'll likely serve as the designated hitter when the team plays road games in Interleague Play.
It wasn't just Kotsay who got his first start of the season Thursday. Catcher John Baker did as well, as Nick Hundley started the first two games of the series.