Cub still might make his next start

Updated: July 17, 2004, 12:47 AM ET
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Mark Prior has irritation in the lining around the bone of his elbow but there is no structural damage in the ligament or nerve, tests showed Friday.

Mark Prior
Starting Pitcher
Chicago Cubs
8 2 2 0 41 4.06

General manager Jim Hendry said there is no immediate plan to put the Chicago Cubs' prized right-hander on the disabled list, adding there's a chance he could still make his next start Tuesday.

Prior plans to play catch Saturday to test his arm.

Prior missed the first two months of the season with a sore right Achilles tendon and tender elbow. He had to leave Thursday night's game with Milwaukee in the second inning when he felt discomfort in the elbow.

He went through a series of tests Friday, including an MRI and a bone scan, just as he did earlier this spring.

"There is absolutely no possibility of Tommy John or ligament reconstruction or anything like that," Hendry said after talking with team doctors.

Hendry quoted team physician Stephen Adams as saying Prior's "ligament is robust."

Hendry compared the irritation in the lining of the bone to shin splints that runners sometimes get.

"Obviously it's recurred since the end of spring training," Hendry said.

"I think he [Prior] feels comfortable that we went through a lot of tests today and had a lot of people look at the tests with him, a lot of people evaluate the MRI and the scan with him. I think he feels it's not anything that's going to be a serious situation as far as a surgical matter the rest of the year."

Hendry said Prior also had a regular X-ray that showed no stress fracture.

Prior, who is just 23, is 2-2 in eight starts this season.

Cubs trainer Dave Groeschner said the irritation of the bone's lining is a rare condition and that can make it difficult to treat.

"We'll treat him on his symptons and how he feels and go from there," Groeschner said.

"We'll see what makes him feel better."

Last year in his first full major league season, Prior went 18-6 -- 10-1 over the final seven weeks -- and made the NL All-Star team.

Her started the season on the disabled list and slowly worked his way back as the team took a conservative approach. He was activated June 4.

The Cubs were looking for Prior and Kerry Wood -- who came off the disabled list last Sunday after missing two months with a sore triceps muscle -- to give them a second-half push.

"I think we've been pretty guarded with him this whole year, so we're not going to do anything stupid," pitching coach Larry Rothschild said before test results were revealed.

"Obviously we realize what he means to this team now, but we also realize what he means in the future."

Injuries have piled up on the Cubs all season with Prior, Wood, star right fielder Sammy Sosa, shortstop Alex Gonzalez, second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, relievers Joe Borowski, Kent Mercker, Mike Remlinger and outfielders Tom Goodwin and Todd Hollandsworth all being sidelined. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez has been out since July 2. Now, Prior could be headed back to the DL.

"This has been the most trying, and the worst because it's been a lot of people," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "It's been almost everybody."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press