SAN DIEGO -- By no means was Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner expecting to get the chance to start this season, though he was elated to hear that he will get the opportunity Saturday against the Brewers.

"I'm looking forward to it ... it's exciting," Cashner said Thursday. "I'm excited about the opportunity to do something I've wanted to do. I didn't think it would be this year."

But this isn't merely a case of Cashner helping the team in a pinch, as Saturday's scheduled starter, Eric Stults, went on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a strained left lat muscle.

San Diego general manager Josh Byrnes said that Cashner will be optioned to the Minor Leagues after Saturday's start to build his endurance and pitch count before he returns to the big leagues -- this time as a starter and not in the eighth-inning specialist role he had been pitching in.

"We'll see how it goes. Ideally, he'll pitch into the third inning and we'll see where his pitch count is," Padres manager Bud Black said. "It's good for him. His mix of pitches will enable him to start moving forward if we think that's the way to go."

Cashner has been a starting pitcher throughout his career and actually opened the 2011 season as the fifth starter in the Cubs rotation. He made one start and then missed most of the next five months of 2011 because of a strained right rotator cuff.

Cashner was 10-8 with a 2.82 ERA in 48 appearances in the Minor Leagues with the Cubs, 42 of which were made as a starting pitcher.

Cashner is 3-3 this season with a 3.81 ERA in 27 games. He's allowed 23 hits in 26 innings and has 29 strikeouts in that stretch. He threw 26 pitches in his last appearance Tuesday against the Giants. The most pitches he's thrown in a game this season is 39.

When Cashner takes the mound against the Brewers, he'll be the 11th pitcher to make a start for the injury-plagued team this season.

Stults the latest Padres starter to land on DL

SAN DIEGO -- In a season in which the Padres have been decimated by injuries, starting pitcher Eric Stults joined the disabled list on Thursday with a strained left lat muscle.

Stults, who was scheduled to pitch Saturday in Milwaukee, suffered the injury this week while he was throwing a normal bullpen session between starts.

"It was sort of a freakish thing," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He threw a pitch and felt it in the back of his shoulder."

Andrew Cashner will start for the Padres on Saturday and the team hopes that he can throw upward of three innings. Cashner has been the Padres' eighth-inning specialist.

Cashner will become the 11th different starting pitcher for the Padres this season. Newcomer Jason Marquis, who got the start on Thursday against the Giants after taking Stults' spot on the roster, was the 10th.

Stults, who was claimed off waivers from the White Sox on May 17, is 1-2 with a 4.44 ERA in his first four starts with the team. He allowed six runs (three earned) over 6 1/3 innings in his last start against the D-backs on Sunday.

Stults joins four other starting pitchers on the disabled list -- Tim Stauffer, Dustin Moseley, Cory Luebke and Joe Wieland. All told, the Padres have had 17 disabled list moves involving 15 players.

Brach fondly recalls his Draft week

SAN DIEGO -- One of Brad Brach's favorite times of the year is baseball's First-Year Player Draft, which concluded on Wednesday.

That's because it's a reminder to the Padres reliever of how far he's come: a 42nd-round Draft pick in 2008 to the big leagues and a spot in San Diego's bullpen.

Heck, these days, the Draft doesn't go beyond 40 rounds anymore, a point that wasn't lost on Brach, who has a 3.26 ERA in 21 appearances this season.

"I noticed that my number wasn't high enough to make the list," Brach said, smiling. "For me, when the Draft happens each year, it's always fun to look back on that day."

Brach was selected on the third and final day of the Draft, though he gave up waiting by the phone after the second day.

"That last day, I was mowing lawns with my brother," he said. "I was kind of feeling down because I had yet to be drafted. Luckily in the 42nd round, the name was called."

Short hops

• Outfielder Will Venable, who has a tight right oblique, continues to get better, said Black. Venable was scheduled to go through a series of baseball activities on Thursday that will determine what his next step is. He will travel with the team on Thursday night to Milwaukee for the start of a nine-game road trip.

• To make room on the 40-man roster for Thursday's starting pitcher, Marquis, the Padres moved injured shortstop Jason Bartlett to the 60-day disabled list. Barlett had been on the 15-day disabled list since May 15 with a strained right knee.