This is only a Padres-relate story in the fact that Mark Prior signed with the Padres for a short time during his second comeback attempt and he is from San Diego. Prior signed a one-year contract with the Padres in December of 2007 worth $1 million. He never even took the mound. Before making a single start for the Padres, he re-injured his arm and was out for the entire year. Now, after being out of the majors since 2006, Prior is attempting yet another comeback. This time, it’s with the Red Sox.
Mark Prior was going to be the next great pitcher. He was going to help the Cubs finally win a World Series. With him and Kerry Wood at the top of the rotation, Chicago was going to be dominant. But it all fell apart with the sound if a pop.
After going 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA in 2003, things started going downhill in a hurry. Prior collided with Marcus Giles during the 2003 season and had to miss some time due to injury from the collision. He also suffered from fatigue after pitching an average of 126 pitches in September of 2003 (and 113 pitches throughout the season). By 2004, Prior was less than his stellar self.
He battled to a 6-4 record in 2004 with a 4.04 ERA in 21 starts. He was off and on the the disabled list throughout the season. It wasn’t long before Prior found himself on the DL more than he was off it. This, inevitably, led to him bouncing around the league trying to catch on somewhere.
Prior last pitched in a Major League game in 2006. After the 2006, Prior was out of baseball all together, but he worked hard, and he slowly began his comeback. In 2010, he pitched for an independent club and the Triple-A affiliate of the Rangers. He only threw one inning for Texas’ Triple-A team. In 2011, the Yankees signed him, and Prior pitched a grand total of 12 innings.
Once again, injuries were keeping him from seeing consistent action. Prior still has talent. The problem, of course, is staying healthy enough to show that talent. At this point, it’s a long shot. But those who question the Red Sox signing Prior don’t understand the reward if Prior can make a comeback. Not only would they get a solid pitcher (and the Sox need pitching help), but they would get a fel-good story to take the nation’s minds off the teams woes.
Mark Prior is the example of over-worked, highly-covetted pitcher. He was so good, the Cubs needed him to work more than most other teams did. It was the Cubs, after all. They seek shelter in the comforting warmth of wins perhaps more than any other team in the league. Prior was the solution. Yet, no one in the Cubs organization considered the ramification of the innings they asked Prior to work.
Now, with Boston, Mark Prior is being given another shot. For a guy who works as hard as Prior does, I will not say this is his last shot, but he is 33. If he’s going to catch on, he’ll need to do it soon.