Former Cubs Pitcher Mark Prior At Parkview Field

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Former Cubs pitcher Mark Prior was in Fort Wayne this week to check out the TinCaps as the former fireballer is in his first season as a special assistant with the San Diego Padres.
Prior, who officially retired as a player in December of 2013, says he’s enjoying his first job outside the lines. A San Diego native, Prior made his first trip to Fort Wayne this week and caught all three games the TinCaps played against the Dayton Dragons.
“Basically, I’m here to see where our A-ball guys are at,” Prior said. “Periodically through the season there are people from the front office, or from the developmental side of the front office, to see how guys are developing through the course of the year, see if they’re progressing and improving on the things they need to improve on. For me, on the professional side, that’s what I’m doing, then, on the personal side, it is my first chance to get to know these players, see them over the course of a series with my own eyes, see what they do and how they do it.”
The second overall pick in the 2001 draft by the Chicago Cubs, Prior made his MLB debut less than a year later on May 22, 2002. He burst on to the scene in 2003, going 18-6, earning a trip to the All-Star Game while finishing third in N.L. Cy Young voting and ninth in M.V.P. voting.
“Overall as a staff, I think (the big thing) at this level is about throwing strikes,” said Prior. “Being able to execute, being able to pitch down in the zone. And then a lot of them are young, a lot of them are inexperienced, and that’s what they need to work on. You find out real fast you make mistakes in the zone no matter what level you’re at all the way down to high school the balls get hit.”
One of the most promising pitchers in baseball, Prior’s injury problems arose in 2004 when he missed the first two months of the season with an Achilles tendon injury. In 2005 he also started the season on the disabled list, then suffered a compression fracture in his pitching elbow in late May when a batted ball struck him. It was the beginning of a rash of injuries that limited his effectiveness and dulled a brilliant start to a career, with many Cubs fans blaming manager Dusty Baker for allowing Prior (along with fellow prized arm Kerry Wood) to routinely exceed 120 pitches in an outing. His final season in the big leagues came with the Cubs in 2006, and his MLB record stands at 42-29 with an ERA of 3.51. He attempted comebacks with the Rangers, Padres, Yankees, Red Sox, and Reds, but never reached the majors again.
“It wasn’t what everybody thought it was going to be, or even what I thought it was going to be, but it was a fun career, and a career that provided me with a lot of fun events in my life, and fun things to do,” said Prior. “I look back on it and I’m grateful for the opportunities that I had. To be able to put on a uniform at any level, let alone the big league level, and play in playoff games, and play at a high level, it is very gratifying but very humbling at the same time. My advice to anybody is to not take any day for granted, and I never did take any day for granted. Once it is taken away from you by choice or by injury you never get a chance to go back. Have fun every day, play 100 percent, have some passion for the game, but enjoy what it is. Enjoy the game for the beauty of what it is and have a lot of fun doing it because you get to meet a lot of great people and go to a lot of great cities.”

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