12/27 Mark Prior update

Former Cubs pitcher Mark Prior tells the New York Daily News that after all the rehab, he’s ready to try again. Prior, 30, signed a Minor League contract with the Yankees that will pay him $750,000
if he makes the team. He will be reunited with Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who caught Prior in his debut game May 22, 2002, vs. the Pirates (a 7-4 Chicago win), and pitching coach Larry Rothschild.

“I think a lot of people wonder if I’m bitter,” Prior told the New York Daily News. “But I’m not. I’m blessed to have three healthy kids, a loving family and friends. When I was a rookie, did I have a vision of what my career would be? Absolutely. Has it gone that way? Absolutely not. But that’s life.

“I think I’ve proved, at least to myself, that I’ve been able to overcome a lot. I’m looking forward to this next chapter in my career. I knew back then that I was getting to the big leagues, but there are no guarantees at this phase … Now I’m hoping to turn the page and reclaim my baseball career.”

Prior, whom the Cubs selected in the first round of the 2001 Draft with the second pick overall, was sidelined because of bizarre injuries. He collided with Marcus Giles while running the bases in 2003, and took a line drive off his elbow in ’05. His failure to live up to the hype was often blamed on high pitch counts.

“Did I have a high workload? Yes,” Prior told the Daily News. “But did I have freak injuries? Yes. Did those have a role? Probably. Maybe not. I got out of the business of asking … I don’t think anyone has the answer. I was arguing to stay in those games. If I knew then what I know now, would I have argued? Maybe. What competitor says, ‘Take me out.’ People get hurt. It’s part of the game.”

After another shoulder injury in ’09, he decided to try rest rather than undergo surgery. He has not pitched in the big leagues since 2006 and now is projected as a reliever, not a starter.

“It hasn’t been easy,” Prior said. “I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times I said, ‘Enough is enough.’ In 2009, I thought long and hard about it. I had done everything I could for two years and it wasn’t working. But I didn’t want to be 35 and say, ‘Man, if I had given myself extra time, I could’ve gotten healthy.’ It’s worth being patient now rather than having regrets.”

– Carrie Muskat

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