Mark Prior was once thought to have the promise of a Hall of Fame career. Drafted by the Chicago Cubs with the second overall pick in 2001, and by 2003 he was already a Cy Young caliber starter (finishing third in the award’s voting that year). Along with Kerry Wood, Prior helped lead an organization with a history so marred the team has become known as the “Lovable Losers” to a division title in 2003, and nearly to the World Series. Chicago lost the NLCS to the eventual champion Florida Marlins in the Bartman series.
Prior’s career would quickly turn south. Beginning in 2004, various injuries caused the right hander to miss significant time each season before arm and shoulder problems forced him to undergo his first of multiple shoulder surgeries in 2007.
Many blamed then Cubs manager Dusty Baker for Prior’s injury-laden free fall, claiming Baker overused Prior and forced him to throw too many pitches in his starts. He averaged 113.4 pitches per game in the 2003 regular season, 126 pitches per start in the month of September and 120 pitches per game in the postseason.
But Prior himself never blamed Baker, and in fact the two have remained close to this day. Now Prior and Baker have been reunited.
Prior was signed to a minor league contract by the Cincinnati Reds this offseason, and was assigned to minor league camp. On Thursday, Prior took to the mound for the first time. He logged one inning of work, faced four batters, struck out one and beamed another.
Seeds All Day would like to share some headlines surrounding this ongoing story.