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."