"I don't really look at this as a wasted season," Cashner said. "I've learned a lot this year just from watching and stuff like that. It's been frustrating. I [didn't] really want this to happen at all, but I can't control it. All I can do is move forward."
Cashner strained his right rotator cuff in his first start on April 5 -- forcing him to the 60-day disabled list -- and has been sidelined ever since. He threw a bullpen session before the start of Thursday's game and will throw a simulated game on Saturday in Atlanta.
While rehabbing in May, Cashner aggravated the injury, but the hard-throwing right-hander expects to return to the mound this season.
"There's no doubt in mind that I'll see action," Cashner said. "This is my sixth or seventh bullpen today. We are going in the right direction, and things are going well.
"I'll be back in September. There's no doubt in my mind at all."
Manager Mike Quade didn't say for certain whether Cubs fans should expect to see Cashner's return to the mound in 2011, but he admires his young pitcher's optimism.
"It's a lot better than a guy saying, 'Well, I'll be ready next year,'" Quade said. "You want him to be confident, excited about getting back."