Mark Prior Impressive in Second AAA Start

May 13, 2002

By CHUCK SCHOFFNER
AP Sports Writer

DES MOINES, Iowa - The person who seems least concerned about when theChicago Cubs will call up pitcher Mark Prior is the one who has the most atstake.

MarkPrior.

'I don't want to know anything until I know,' Prior said Sunday after hissecond start in Triple-A with the Iowa Cubs. 'The focus should not be onwhen I'm coming up. The focus should be on what they're doing up there.

'Let them go to work up there. When I get called up, then I've got a job todo, and my job's to help them win games.'

Chicago isn't doing much of that. A 13-4 loss to Milwaukee on Sunday droppedthe Cubs nine games below .500 and 7� games behind first-place Cincinnati inthe NL Central.

Cubs general manager Andy MacPhail watched Prior strike out 10 in 4 2-3innings of Iowa's 8-5 victory over Las Vegas on Sunday. MacPhail would notsay when Prior, the No. 2 choice in last year's draft, might be called up,but he indicated Prior's stay in Triple-A would not be long.

MacPhail talked about Prior's poise and professionalism and how he can'tlearn to pitch to big league hitters until he actually faces them.

'There's no sense in leaving him here if he's not really being challenged,'MacPhail said.

'With all due deference to the minor leagues, there are no Barry Bondses orRichie Sexsons here. There's some things that he's only going to learnthrough trial and error at the major league level.'

MacPhail said two things will determine when Prior makes the jump.

'One, how well he's doing. And he's doing fine,' MacPhail said. 'Two, howbadly we need him. And we have not pitched as well at the major league levelas I would have anticipated early on. As those two things go closer andcloser together, then the chances of bringing him up increase.'



MarkPrior has been successful at the plate as well in AAA, hitting two HRs and a bases-loaded triple in two games.

Prior, who went 4-1 in six starts in Double-A, insisted he's content wherehe is now. He won his first Triple-A start last Tuesday, striking out 10 andgiving up just three hits in 7 2-3 innings. He came back with another solideffort Sunday, though he did not get the win.

'I just hope the focus right now is on what I do here for this team,' Priorsaid. 'Because right now, my job in the organization is for the Iowa Cubsand I'm trying to win games for them.

'I felt I proved I could pitch at the big league level in spring training,'he added. 'But I've still got to put my time in down here.'

Prior wasn't quite as sharp as in his first game with Iowa. He gave up fourhits and walked four, although all four runs he allowed were unearned, theresult of his infielders muffing three grounders in the fifth inning.

He gave up a two-run homer to Chris Clapinski after an error extended theinning. Another error led to a third run and Prior was lifted after walkingin a fourth, which put him at his 110-pitch limit.

Prior also hit a bases-loaded triple. He homered twice in his Triple-Adebut.

'I felt like I had great stuff today,' Prior said. 'I think the reason I gotbehind in the count was just because they're a great hitting lineup. Theymake adjustments and they recognize pitches well.

'I maybe started off trying to be a little too fine, but I was happy withthe way I threw the ball.'

So was MacPhail.

'I was impressed with the way he was certainly tested in the fifth inning byour infield,' MacPhail said. 'And I thought he did a good job by and large.He held his velocity. I thought his stuff actually got better after he gotpast the first inning or two.'

MacPhail said he was surprised Prior has hit so well. Prior also hit a homerun in Double-A.

'That's just a bonus so far,' MacPhail said. 'We might be hitting himseventh.'

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