news comes today that prior got on the mound yesterday.
Enigmatic Class AAA pitcher Mark Prior, who opened the season on the seven-day minor-league disabled list with shoulder fatigue, is scheduled for a bullpen session today before getting his first extended spring training start, probably Wednesday or Thursday.
Despite insisting all spring he is healthy and experiencing no apparent setbacks, Prior has not pitched since March 28 in a major-league exhibition game.
despite the fact that prior is scheduled to throw, that lack of work is both frustrating and indicative of more trouble than the cubs have let on. few if any pitchers don't throw for two weeks in april without pain being the reason, and though many have argued otherwise this page maintains that prior is damaged, suffering and trying to pitch in spite of it. prior knows his career is in the balance, and at least some in the cub organization must be as attenuated to the importance of prior to this club as everyone in the cardinal organization is to the greater importance to that team of chris carpenter, for whom every dismal hope of immediate recovery is being held out.
(incidentally, carpenter's mri has today resulted in a diagnosis of "moderate arthritis and a slight impingement" -- he was placed on the disabled list retroactively to april 2 and will probably be pitching again before april is out.)
it should be said that prior has been seen by this writer as the most probable of a group of potentials, one of whom must rise to a fairly high level of performance this year in order to lift the cub pitching staff to a level that will support a decent but hardly overwhelming cub offense in a bid for a win total in the mid-80s. on this evidence, however, that probability may have changed -- and that is bad news for the team, as the next most likely candidate would seem to be angel guzman, who is currently working out of the pen behind fifth starter wade miller.
miller's first start this year is, in this opinion, merely a harbinger of things to come. it may not always be so awful as nine hits and two walks in four innings, of course, but miller simply doesn't possess the arm he did before labrum surgery and has never possessed the control he would need to be a major league pitcher without that arm. one would expect guzman or some other candidate to supplant miller once the team has been compelled by the evidence to understand the depth of jim hendry's arrogant folly.
the sooner that now comes, the better. miller has no ceiling higher than that which he is currently pitching at; guzman, who isn't anymore the brilliant prospect some still think he is, could at least be a quality starter for this club and give it some better chance of being the tallest midget in the national league central.