Cubs demote Mark Prior to minors
By RICK GANO, AP Sports Writer
March 28, 2007
MESA, Ariz. (AP) -- Mark Prior was sent to the minors Wednesday where the Chicago Cubs hope he can regain the form that made him an 18-game winner and All-Star selection four years ago.
Prior, whose career has been slowed by an assortment of injuries, was optioned to Triple-A Iowa right after his final spring training start.
"It wasn't easy. But at the same time, this is good for his career," new Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.
Prior had left the Cubs' clubhouse and wasn't available for comment after pitching just three innings in Chicago's 4-4 tie with the Colorado Rockies.
"He handled it OK. He wasn't happy. He wasn't pleased. But you don't expect that," Piniella added.
Prior, the second player chosen in the 2001 draft after a stellar final college season at Southern California, broke in with the Cubs in 2002. He has a 42-29 record, including 18-6 in 2003 when helped pitch Chicago into the playoffs.
He was on the mound for Game 6 of the NL championship series against Florida with the Cubs leading the series 3-2 and the game 3-0 before the Marlins rallied with eighth runs in the eighth. Florida went on to win Game 7 and then captured the World Series.
Prior, 26, has started the last three seasons on the disabled list with an assortment of injuries to his Achilles, elbow and shoulder. He was limited to nine starts by shoulder problems a year ago when his record was just 1-6.
He had four appearances and three starts this spring, pitching just 10 1-3 innings.
The decision to go with Wade Miller as the fifth starter was announced Tuesday, so there was no place in the rotation for Prior, and his final spring outing really had no bearing on his chance to make the team.
"I didn't want him to go out here and really really push to get a spot when in turn we had already made a decision on Miller," Piniella said.
"I told Mark that there is a marked difference between what we are seeing now from what we were seeing much earlier in the spring. He's come a good ways. He just needs to continue to work."
Prior gave up two hits and three runs against the Rockies, but they were all unearned because of sloppy play by the Cubs' outfield, which committed three errors.
"He's making progress," general manager Jim Hendry said. "Every time out, he's been better. He's not quite there yet and I don't think he would disagree with that."
Hendry said a member of the Cubs' staff would be present at every one of Prior's starts for Triple-A Iowa.
"And obviously when he gets back to being where you want him to be, he'll be able to help us," Hendry said. "We'll make a spot for him when he's ready. I promise you that."
But Hendry didn't put a timetable on Prior's return.
"As long as he is making progress, what is the right time frame? A couple of weeks, a month?" Hendry said. "To me, if he keeps getting better, it will show up when he's ready for us."
I'm glad the Cubs did this. While I hate to see a guy suffer, he doesn't deserve a spot in the majors right now and he's been given a ton of chances only to approach them with what seems to be a bad attitude.
This is a soild move. All these people hate on the guy, but he's had a lot of tough luck....... this move will motivate him to work for a spot in the rotation now that he sees he has a lot of competition for one....... i expect him to pitch well and wind up getting back on track by the end of the year.