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Out For the Season, Or For Good?

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Apr 26, 2007 1:07PM

Chicagoist can be lazy sometimes. We feel like we just keep writing, and writing, and writing about injury woes and the Cubs. So we recently decided that it'd be well worth our while to write a fill-in-the-blank post we can simply re-use each time somebody else goes down. How fitting that Mark Prior gives us the first opportunity to utilize our new time saving bit of prefab journalism:

Cubs former pitching phenom Mark Prior, who exited his first minor league extended spring training start after two innings, will be out for the rest of the season, following arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday to "clean up" his rotator cuff and labrum.

While the form works for the basic details, we found it more difficult to write off-the-shelf analysis.

2007_04_sports_prior_injury.jpgSo, with Mark Prior officially lost for the season before he even set foot in Wrigley Field, is this the end for his tenure with the Cubs? The end of his major league career all together?

Thus far, Cubs GM Jim Hendry has been coy about the franchise's plans for Prior. While the surgeon who performed the procedure and said that it wasn't career threatening, Hendry would commit to Prior in the media, "Obviously, we think a lot of Mark. … Like always, you do everything in the best interests of the club. You make the decisions we have to make down the road." Of course the coming change in ownership only complicates the situation.

The Trib's Paul Sullivan is confident that Prior's days with the team are over. Despite the injury, Prior would still likely receive a salary similar to this year's $3.575 million were he to return. Considering the Cubs have paid him about $1 million a start over the past couple years, why would they continue doing that? Ironically, because the injury occured while assigned to their minor league affiliate, Prior receives no Major League service time for the 2007 season and thus wouldn't be eligible for free agency for an additional year now.

Meanwhile in the Sun-Times, Jay Mariotti is blaming the Cubs for Prior's breakdown. He questions, legitimately, why it took so long for surgery to clean up "loose junk in his pitching shoulder than a pawn-shop owner at a flea market." Is Prior's body itself, or his mechanics to blame for his inability to stay healthy? Did the Cubs' repeated denial that something was wrong cause him to break down beyond the point of return? Or is the latest in the Mark Prior saga more proof of the rumor we mentioned a couple weeks ago?

We want to know what you think--is Prior's career with the Cubs over? Will he ever pitch in the Majors again?