Prior Rocked in Second Spring Appearance
Cubs Hurler Has Posted 18.90 ERA This Spring
By DOUG TUCKER
SURPRISE, Ariz. (March 10) - Mark Prior 's second appearance of spring training was just about as bad as his first. Now, the former Chicago Cubs ace might be in danger of not making the rotation at all.
Prior relieved an effective Ted Lilly to start the fourth inning Saturday and the Kansas City Royals knocked him around in a 6-5 victory over Chicago .
Prior gave up four runs and four hits in two innings. In two appearances covering 3 1/3 innings this spring, he has an 18.90 ERA. He has no strikeouts and has given up eight hits, five walks and a home run.
"It's frustrating," he said. "It's not the way I want to pitch. It's not the way I know I can pitch. So I'll just keep working on getting back to where I want to be."
The right-hander, who missed most of 2006 during a third consecutive season of injuries, threw 40 pitches, mostly fastballs that registered in the low-to-mid 80s.
He gave up a single and a walk in his first inning, then David DeJesus led off the fifth with a home run. Two more walks, Ryan Shealy's RBI single and a two-run double by Alex Gonzalez completed another bad day for the 26-year-old Prior.
"Right now, I'm just worried about playing. Worried about trying to make myself better," he said. "When all that comes through at the end, if I make myself better and I'm pitching the way I can, then I'm helping the ballclub. But right now I'm just worried about getting better myself. What I did the last two outings is not the way I want to pitch, no.
"I know I'm better than that."
Nevertheless, first-year Cubs manager Lou Piniella said he detected improvement.
"He threw the ball a little better," Piniella said. "Again, he couldn't get his breaking ball over at all. He's pitching with one pitch and he's not locating that pitch. So it's not really a recipe for success right now."
Piniella said there's time for Prior to work things out.
"We'll keep pitching him," he said. "That's what spring training's for. We've got a long way to go in spring training. There's plenty of time to pick five starters, and we'll leave it at that."
Mark Prior, who has been hit hard in both of his appearances this spring, will next pitch in a minor league game on Thursday.
"His confidence is playing with him a little bit," manager Lou Piniella said. "I told him, 'Look, you have to relax.' I think this is the right approach. If I didn't think it was the right approach, I wouldn't send him down there. He can go down there and relax and just pitch. He doesn't have to answer to the media. Leave him alone, let him pitch." Maybe a confidence boost will help, but Prior will have to retire major league batters later if he wants to open the season with the Cubs. Mar. 11-5:22 pm et
Even though he couldn't locate it, the curve was working well and had a few guys way off balance. It was known he really hadn't thrown many curves yet in the prior game or on the side so location troubles aren't a surprise.
His velocity did get a bit better at 87-89 most of the time. His fastball was also all over the place. But each time he tried a 88 MPH "high heater", it got ripped.
He's definitely got work to do, and I think if they work it right or get a rain out the Cub schedule dictates a 5th starter is only needed once in the first 3 weeks, so he may be that guy. But Lou has stated he needs to perform to make the team so we'll see how he responds to that challenge. Obviously, there are plenty who think he is weak both physically and mentally.
He is pitching today in a major league game. im curious to see how he does. If the cubs had zero intention of carrying him on themajor league team they would have had him continue to throw to minor leaguers like his last start
To ye of little faith... i watched prior pitch today. he got the first 2 outs in the first inning and then he gave up 4 straight singles but 2 of them were just out of the reach of fielders and they werent scorced hits. from the 2nd inning to the 4th he was pitching well. he hit 93 on the strikeout in the 3rd. from the 2nd thru 4th innings his fastball was 90-91 with 93 being the fastest. his curve was working well too, he was routinely in the low 80's with it, the fastest i remember was 82. overall mark had decent command today except for the 2 walks- the second walk he was all over the place. today's outing was very positive for him and i think he will have a good year once he gets to start every 5 days.