CHICAGO -- This season may not have gone the way Cubs pitcher Andrew Cashner wanted, but don't call it a waste just yet.

"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."

Johnson credits plate success to Jaramillo

CHICAGO -- Outfielder Reed Johnson is having one of his best seasons, and he gives credit to Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo for the help.

"I've been real fortunate with Rudy," Johnson said. "That was part of my decision coming here, to be able to work with him."

Johnson said former Cub and current Giants utility man Mark DeRosa raved about Jaramillo when the two were together in Texas. DeRosa said Jaramillo saved his career.

"A lot of hitting coaches will stay away from you if you're swinging the bat well and they don't want to say anything to mess you up," Johnson said. "[Jaramillo] stays on you when you're swinging the bat well, so you can sustain that swing for a longer period of time. That's a big difference I see with him. That's a big part of my success this year."

Following a 3-for-4 performance in the Cubs' 4-3 victory on Thursday against the Nationals, Johnson is batting .349 -- his single-season high is .319 in 2006 with the Blue Jays -- and he had a .369 average against left-handers. On Wednesday, he matched a career high with a four-hit game, including his fifth home run.

"I think Rudy is real big on approach and mental approach and staying focused and staying with a good approach," Johnson said. "When you're so concentrated on those things, you don't lose your focus."

Santo aware of statue before death

CHICAGO -- Though Ron Santo didn't live to see his statue's unveiling, the former All-Star and Gold Glove third baseman knew it was coming.

Wednesday night, Santo's wife, Vicki, said he received a call from Cubs president Crane Kenney in the spring of 2010. Kenney told Santo the Cubs were putting a statue of Hall of Famer and teammate Billy Williams outside the walls of Wrigley Field and that Santo's statue would follow.

"He did know," Vicki said. "And he was so excited. 'Vicki, do you realize what a big deal that is? I can't believe they would do that for me.'"

As the couple discussed the future statue, Vicki asked what pose he would like to be in.

Santo responded: "Honey, it doesn't matter -- just as long as I'm there."

Flores receives 50-game suspension

CHICAGO -- Cubs Minor League catcher Luis Flores has received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for Methylhexaneamine.

The suspension of Flores, who is currently on the roster of the Double-A Tennessee Smokies, is effective immediately.

Drafted in the seventh round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, Flores was batting .275 with seven home runs and 20 RBIs this season.