File this one under “very unlikely”.
Yet, it’s also intriguing enough to warrant some thought. There are certainly no shortage of fallen stars looking for a chance at redemption in each MLB off-season, but not too many have shone quite as brightly as Mark Prior.
The righty is someone who needs little introduction. A poster boy for how injuries can wreck a pitcher’s career, the former once-in-a-generation prospect has been hanging around in the minors with various organizations, six years removed from his last appearance on a major league mound. Despite the various shoulder surgeries and lengthy rehabs that has kept him from doing what he used to do best, Prior has been focused on just one goal – to get back to the majors.
And he’s wants to give it one more shot in 2013.
According to David Kaplan of CSN Chicago, Prior has been working out this off-season in hopes of earning an invite to Spring Training in the major leagues, and sources have said that the former All-Star is in the “best shape of his life”.
That’s a phrase that baseball fans have undoubtedly heard many times before, but there are specific details in Prior’s case. In his report for MLB.com, Doug Miller points out that Prior has been going through a lengthy and continually refined process of building the muscle around his shoulder capsule since 2010, with the latest results being 19 appearances over 25 innings with AAA Pawtucket in the Boston Red Sox system, where Prior struck out batters at a 13.68 K/9 rate.
It’s a big step forward in his quest to return to the majors, even if there hasn’t been any takers of the 32-year old’s services for the coming season yet.
Although, there was one team that did bring him back in a different capacity. The Chicago Cubs, the only team that Prior has pitched for on a major-league level, recently asked their former second-overall pick to dish out some advice to the team’s top prospects.
The more interesting tidbit, though, comes from the sources who told Kaplan that the club “has not closed the door on [the] possibility” of potentially giving their speaker a shot at Spring Training this season, or to join some of those prospects that he spoke to in the minors.
Even if there have been “zero conversations” about that subject with Spring Training coming up, a reunion between Prior and the Cubs would seem fitting, even if it’s just to give the team and its fans an underdog story with a familiar name to get behind, as the rebuilding Cubs face a long and likely arduous season in 2013.
Could Prior take his re-discovered 92-93 mph heat all the way back to the majors with the club where it all started? It’d be the longest of long shots, but neither him nor the Cubs would have anything to lose by giving it one more go.