It wasn't exactly how Andrew Cashner envisioned this anticipated return to Wrigley Field - the place where his pitching career turned upside-down the last time he took the mound.
The hard-throwing right-hander got through just four innings in his third start of the season for the San Diego Padres as the Cubs beat their former first-round draft pick 6-2 Wednesday night in Cashner's first start at Wrigley since suffering a shoulder surgery in his starting debut two years ago.
By the end of that year, the Cubs had a new front office, a new field staff and a new outlook on Cashner - who was traded that winter for Anthony Rizzo.
"I don't think they knew if I would come back healthy or not," said Cashner, whose fastball had reached 98 mph in Arizona Fall League play by the time he was traded. "I look at it from both angles. They got an everyday guy vs. a starter every five days or a reliever. And I think they looked at me as a reliever."
Getting new life as a potential starter for the Padres, Cashner is trying to prove he's the impact starter the Cubs let get away. But that will have to wait for another night after walking four guys and giving up hard contact much of his four starts - including a leadoff single in the third to Rizzo.
"I think it was a great trade," said Rizzo before the game, who referred to the handwriting he saw on the wall when the Padres traded for Cincinnati first baseman Yonder Alonso before dealing him to the Cubs. "I got out of San Diego. I'm very happy in Chicago and way closer to home [in Florida] and not playing three hours behind everyone."