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MRI shows compression fracture near elbow

CHICAGO -- Right-hander Mark Prior was placed on the 15-day
disabled list by the Chicago Cubs on Saturday, one day after he was
hit in the right elbow by a line drive.

An MRI showed a compression fracture near the elbow, trainer
Mark O'Neal said.

Prior, O'Neal and Cubs manager Dusty Baker would not speculate
how long Prior would be out.

"It could have been a lot worse, it could have been my
career," Prior said. "Everyone knows the risks going out there
and playing.

"It's a game that's supposed to be fun, but there are some
inherent risks that go with it," he added. "I'll be back. I've
been hit before and it's no big deal."

This is Prior's fifth trip to the disabled list since he made
his debut in 2002, and second this year. He began this season on
the DL with inflammation in the elbow, delaying his first start
until April 13. In nine starts this year, he is 4-1 with a 2.93
ERA.

Prior's injury is another blow for Chicago's already depleted
rotation. Kerry Wood has been on the disabled list since May 1 with
a shoulder injury.

The Cubs recalled right-hander Roberto Novoa from Iowa of the
Pacific Coast League to take Prior's roster spot. Novoa was 1-1
with Iowa with three saves and a 2.78 ERA. In an earlier recall to
the Cubs from April 27 to May 9, he was 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA in five
games.

They also obtained pitchers Jerome Williams and David Aardsma from San Francisco for reliever LaTroy Hawkins, who had been demoted after starting the season as Chicago's closer. Williams, 23, was San Francisco's youngest 10-game winner since 1975 last year but had been sent to the minors after a slow start this season.

With the Cubs paying most of Hawkins' salary this season, Giants
general manager Brian Sabean was willing to give up two talented
prospects to get help -- even in the form of a struggling reliever
who has been derided by Chicago's fans and media since last season.

"We're in desperate need to rearrange the bullpen," Sabean
said. "We followed [Hawkins] for the better part of May. I believe
he needs a change of scenery. He'll fit in nice in our seventh and
eighth inning."

Chicago general manager Hendry said both new pitchers will start in the minor leagues.

When asked if the trade had anything to with Prior's injury
Hendry replied: "If we could have made this deal a week or two
ago, we would have."

The Cubs signed Hawkins as a free agent before the 2004 season,
hoping he could help shore up a shaky bullpen. He'd set a major
league record when he converted his first 23 save chances with the
Minnesota Twins in 2000 and 2001. Though he lost his job to Eddie
Guardado the next year, he became one of the best setup men in the
majors, going 9-3 with a 1.86 ERA in 2003.

But Hawkins struggled in Chicago, and became the favorite target
of unhappy fans. He blew nine save chances last year, when he took
over as closer following an injury to Joe Borowski.

The Cubs hoped to use him as a setup man this year, but he was
forced into the closer's role again after Borowski got hurt in
spring training. Hawkins blew three of seven save chances before
Baker replaced him with Ryan Dempster on May 9. He's 1-4 with a
3.32 ERA this year.

"I wasn't surprised. That's part of the business," said
Hawkins, who's expected to be in San Francisco on Sunday. "I'm
going to miss the fellas, I'll tell you that much."

Giants slugger Moises Alou was Hawkins' teammate in Chicago last
season, when Wrigley Field fans began to boo him regularly.

"I was happy when I heard about (the trade),'' Alou said.
"He's a nice guy. He needed a change of scenery. I know he's going
to help."

In 98 games with the Cubs, Hawkins was 6-8 with a 2.76 ERA.

"We've been getting a number of calls about LaTroy lately and
in the best interest of LaTroy and his career, I think it's a good
situation for him," Hendry said. "LaTroy's a good guy. He's been
a good teammate, and I think he felt that he would have preferred
to fight through it and do it here. But I think he understood first
and foremost I'm supposed to do what's best for the ballclub."

Aardsma, San Francisco's top selection in the 2003 draft, is the
career saves leader at Rice University. He pitched briefly in the
Giants' bullpen last season, but was converted to a starting
pitcher this spring at Double-A Norwich.

O'Neal said Prior's fracture was inside the bone and not on the
surface.

"The outer layer of the bone was not compromised," O' Neal
said. "That would be a linear fracture, which he does not have. He
has a compression, basically the inside of the bone is compressed.

"We feel very fortunate that this is the fracture he has. It's
not something where we know we have to shut him down for four to
six weeks."

But O'Neal would not predict Prior's rehab schedule.

"This is basically on Mark's timeframe," O'Neal said. "When
he has a full, pain-free range of motion and no edema, we'll
progress from there. There's no way I can give you a time frame for
this.

Prior said he isn't worried about a long-term problem.

"I love to listen to everyone dwell on the fact how many times
I've been on the DL," Prior said. "But I've only really been on
the DL once for a throwing related problem. This is just something
freakish that happened and I have no control over.