PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) -Mark Prior said he felt strong after facing live hitters for the first time in a year on Thursday.
The San Diego Padres right-hander, who had shoulder surgery in April while with the Chicago Cubs, threw 25 pitches during an eight-minute session.
``It was good,'' Prior said. ``It was nice to see their reaction to how I'm throwing even though they're way ahead of me as far as being prepared. It was good to get in there and see where you're at.''
Prior signed a $1 million deal with his hometown Padres in December, with the chance to make more in incentives. He'll start the season on the 60-day disabled list and is expected to be ready to pitch in the big leagues around June 1.
Manager Bud Black was impressed with the way the ball came out of Prior's hand. Prior, who has a career record of 42-29 with a 3.51 ERA, threw all fastballs and changeups.
``I thought he looked good,'' Black said. ``He threw free and easy, his delivery looked good, the ball was coming out of his hand great. It was very encouraging. It was another step in the progression and he's answered them all.''
The next step, Black said, is for Prior to throw a bullpen session on Saturday before facing hitters again on Tuesday. He is expected to throw to hitters three more times in Peoria before participating in a simulated game.
Prior said he likes the pace he's recovering at and was happy the Padres placed him on the 60-day DL. The earliest Prior would be eligible to come off the DL is May 15.
``It puts me in a situation come May 10 where if I feel outstanding it allows me not to push the issue and come back too early before I'm ready and then a month later saying, we might have pushed this,'' Prior said. ``Overall the fact that I'm even at where I am right now, I'm happy. I've got a long way to go and a lot of work but it's just another little milestone you can check off and keep going forward.''

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