Cubs lose Prior for rest of season

Cubs lose Prior for rest of season

Cubs lose Prior for rest of season
Associated Press

Oft-injured Cubs pitcher Mark Prior will miss the entire 2007 season after surgery on his right shoulder, a setback that isn't expected to finish his once-promising career.

The 26-year-old Prior had surgery Tuesday by noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala. Andrews also worked on Prior's rotator cuff.

"Obviously, Mark is done for the year," Chicago general manager Jim Hendry said. "From my conversations with (trainer) Mark O'Neal and John Boggs, Mark's agent who talked to Dr. Andrews last night, Dr. Andrews feels comfortable that he will still have a career. This is certainly not career-ending."

"He felt optimistic that he would be able to pitch next year. ... At his age, he should not have a problem responding and coming back after a strenuous rehab."

Hendry said it was way too early to set a timetable for Prior's return or discuss what it means for Prior's future with the Cubs. Prior started his rehabilitation program Wednesday, and it will continue into the offseason.

Prior has been beset by injuries since his first full season in the majors in 2003. He made just nine starts last year for the Cubs after three trips to the disabled list.

Prior was not on the Cubs' active roster to start this year and was optioned to Triple-A Iowa after a poor spring training. He instead went to extended spring training in Arizona, but pitched only two innings there April 12 before reporting discomfort in his shoulder.

"Obviously he had some things wrong physically and he's getting them corrected," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said before Wednesday's game against Milwaukee. "So, this is a step in the right direction."

The injury was the latest problem for the struggling team. The Cubs, who have not reached the World Series since 1945, made many major changes in the offseason yet began the day in last place in the NL Central with a 7-13 record.

Kerry Wood, who teamed with Prior to nearly pitch the Cubs to the NL pennant in 2003, is back on the disabled list with tendinitis in his shoulder. Like Prior, Wood has been sidetracked by injuries.

Hendry said Wood might resume throwing this week. Wood has not pitched since a spring training appearance on March 25 when his arm felt weak and then stiffened up the next day.

Hendry said he was encouraged by the type of surgery performed on Prior.

"It stayed in the arthroscopic stage. But I think he had some touch up work in a lot of places," Hendry said.

"But at the same time there didn't seem to be anything so significant that it would require more than the scope. It didn't have to be opened up and have extensive surgery."

Prior went to Dr. Lewis Yocum in California before going to see Andrews, who told the right-hander last October he had genetic looseness in his shoulder joints.

Prior is 42-29 with a 3.51 ERA in the majors. He took a slight pay cut this season, from $3.65 million to $3.575 million.

Prior finished third in NL Cy Young voting in 2003, when he 18-6 with a 4.24 ERA and struck out 245 in 211 1-3 innings. That October, he was on the mound for Game 6 of the NL championship series against Florida with the Cubs leading the series 3-2.

Chicago held a three-run lead in the eighth inning before the Marlins, helped by fan interference on a foul ball at Wrigley Field, rallied to win. Florida also won Game 7 and then won the World Series.

Prior was the overall No. 2 pick in the 2001 draft by the Cubs.

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