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Prior Sits With Achilles' Soreness


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Credit: AP





Cubs' Prior Sits With Achilles' Soreness


AP Sports Writer



MESA, Ariz. - Mark Prior's powerful push off the mound is causing him pain, so the Chicago Cubs are taking no chances with their young pitching star.


Prior, an 18-game winner in his first full major league season last year, will miss five to 10 days of spring training with an inflamed right Achilles' tendon.


He first felt the soreness last September when he helped pitch the Cubs into the playoffs, going 10-1 over the final two months of the season.


"When I started working out again in January on the mound it started back up and I got here and it got inflamed," Prior said Monday.


"They just want to get rid of it. They don't want me to change anything to favor it, so I'm going to take some time off when I have time."


An MRI showed no structural damage or tear. Both Prior and Cubs trainer Dave Groeschner said the 23-year-old right-hander will be ready for opening day.


But it could be nearly two weeks before he can pitch in an exhibition game. After he is cleared to throw again, Prior will have to build his arm strength back up. The Cubs begin exhibition play Thursday.


"It's early in the spring and we can nip this in the bud and make sure he's ready for the season," Groeschner said.


Part of the reason for the tendinitis in the Achilles' tendon area is that Prior has trouble getting his massive leg muscles loose. He'll undergo various forms of treatment and do a lot of stretching.


"It's my push-off foot and when I drive, it just pinches. It's a minor thing, but it's something I don't want to get serious," Prior said.


"I just hope it's not a nuisance like it was last year. But if it is, it's something we'll take care of and push through."


He's confident he can catch up quickly, even if he doesn't get as much work as he planned in spring games.


"There is no real timetable on it," he said. "The first two starts, anyway, we only throw like two or three innings. I'm not really worried about that. As long as I can get on the hill a few times and see some hitters in game situations, I feel like that's all I need."


Prior, who finished third in voting for the NL CY Young Award last season, is 24-12 in his first 49 major league starts.


He made the All-Star team last season and finished with a 2.43 ERA and 245 strikeouts, second in the league to teammate Kerry Wood.


In the playoffs, Prior was 2-1 with a 2.31 ERA in three starts. He was the loser in pivotal Game 6 of the NL championship series when Florida scored eight runs in the eighth inning. The Marlins went on to win that game and the series.


Prior is slated to be the No. 3 starter in Chicago's stellar rotation behind Wood and Greg Maddux, but is already considered the ace of the staff by some.


"The Achilles', you got to take your time with that one," manager Dusty Baker said. "You got to take care of it."


Notes: Reliever Mike Remlinger is making slow progress in his recovery from shoulder surgery and the Cubs aren't sure if he will be ready for opening day. Another lefty in the bullpen, Kent Mercker, has been bothered by a sore back. ... Cubs players met with MLB security Monday. Prior, the team's player rep, said among the topics was baseball's recent crackdown on who will be allowed into clubhouses this season. The Cubs aren't sure how the ruling will affect Julian Martinez, a personal assistant to Sammy Sosa who has access to the clubhouse. At times, he's pitched batting practice and hit fungoes. Prior said Martinez's name didn't come up during Monday's session.

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