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Mark Prior Lit Up In Cactus League Opener

Posted by sportsmaven on March 6, 2007

The expectations for Mark Prior have never been lower than they were today. Mark Prior pitched in his first Cactus League game in forever and got lit up. For the Chicago Cubs, they were estatic that Prior finished his outing and walked off the field under his own power. For how the mighty have fallen. It was only 3 years ago that Mark Prior was labeled the next Tom Seaver. He was coming off an 18-win season and nearly took the Cubs to their first World Series since 1945. But since then, Mark Prior has won 18 games total over 3 seasons and has been on the disabled list as much as Kerry Wood, or 100 times, whichever is lower. And now this.

Mark Prior Gets Bombed In Cactus League Debut
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The Cubs did beat the Seattle Mariners, 6-5, but Prior did not look sharp today, having trouble thowing strikes and getting behind nearly every hitter he faced today. He gave up hits, he walked batters, and he didn’t have any strikeouts and was pulled before he could finish his scheduled 2 innings of work. After yesterday, at least he didn’t give up any homers. It is still early in the spring, but Prior has to be a concern if you are Lou Piniella and Larry Rothschild. After all, Prior is the key to the effectiveness of this Cubs rotation. When healthy, Prior has the stuff of a #1 starter. Having a #1 in Carlos Zambrano and a #1a in Prior takes tremendous heat off the remainder of the rotation. Without an effective Prior, the Cubs rotation has to pick up more slack and is more exposed. The jury is still out on Prior, but the concerns about injury and effectiveness are a constant reminder of the past 3 years for Cubs pitching….The Prior watch continues.

Kerry Wood Dominant In His Cactus League Opener
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

As for Kerry Wood, he was the opposite. He was as dominant as he’s ever been, needing only 12 pitches to complete his scheduled one inning of work for the day. He struck out one and was throwing 95-96 MPH. His line was full of zeroes today; no hits, no walks, no runs. Again, similar to Prior, it’s still early. Lets see how he handles the next few outings, but you have to be encouraged about his performance today. I believe Wood will ultimately wind up in the closer role for the Cubs, but today in middle relief, he looked very strong.

Finally, I wanted to point out that Felix Pie went 3-5 today with 2 runs scored and an RBI. I would love to see Pie in CF this season with Alfonso Soriano moving to RF and for the Cubs to move Jacque Jones. If it doesn’t happen this season, it will by next season, no doubt, but in my opinion, it can’t happen sooner if it happens now, and if I were Jim Hendry, I would be shopping Jones tomorrow morning, regardless of what Pie does for the rest of spring training.

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