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Cashner returns for Padres, Gyorko heads to DL

Andrew Cashner returns Saturday to take on the Nationals.
Andrew Cashner returns Saturday to take on the Nationals.
Denis Poroy / Getty Images

The San Diego Padres' pitching rotation receives a boost Saturday night when No. 1 starter Andrew Cashner returns from the disabled list to face the Washington Nationals at Petco Park.

Meanwhile, the DL giveth and the DL taketh away -- team RBI leader Jedd Gyorko was placed on the 15-day DL Friday with plantar fasciitis in his left foot and heel.

Cashner, arguably the Padres' best pitcher despite a deceptive 2-5 record (the 2.35 earned run average is a more representative measure of his effectiveness), was disabled several weeks ago after suffering unusual soreness in the elbow and forearm area after pitching.

However, he has responded to rest and treatment, and tests revealed no problems with his ulnar collateral ligament and Cashner has declared himself pain-free. With manager Bud Black (a former pitching coach) he has also worked on changing the grip on his slider to put less strain on his forearm.

The Padres are in a tailspin that has left them a season-worst seven games under .500 (27-34) and they sorely missed Cashner: In the four starts he missed the Padres are 0-4 and his replacements got pounded.

Pitching continues to keep the Padres in most games. But the offense continues to sputter and it's unclear how badly Gyorko will be missed. The second baseman leads the Padres with 24 runs batted in and is second in home runs with five. But he continues to bat about 50 points below his weight (.162) and has been in the middle of many failed rallies. He can probably use a few weeks off.

The Padres continue to rank at or near the MLB bottom in most meaningful offensive statistics. They've managed all of 15 hits in the past five games. In the only game the Padres have won in the past week, they beat the Pirates 3-2 while collecting one hit -- a bunt single by Everth Cabrera. "There are a lot of ways to win a ballgame. And that's one," quipped Black.

It's unclear if Gyorko will be available in 15 days. Ex-Padres Logan Forsythe (now on the Rays) saw his career in San Diego derailed by severe bouts of plantar fasciitis that required surgery. The painful condition cost the Angels' Albert Pujols the second half of last season.

Gyorko is in a walking boot and received a cortisone shot several days ago. An MRI revealed no structural damage, but it's a condition that can remain troublesome and resist treatment.

Sort of like the Padres' offense.