The Minnesota Twins have seemingly kicked the tires on almost every pitcher known to man this off-season in an attempt to rebuild their once promising pitching staff. You can’t really blame the team for not leaving any stone unturned in their efforts to find a gem amongst the scrap heap of journeymen free agent pitchers; so far—unfortunately—their search has turned up minimum and questionable results. The latest rumor that has been kicked around the blogisphere is that former Chicago Cubs pitcher Mark Prior is reportedly strengthening his shoulder with the hopes of one more comeback attempt in the big leagues. Indications are that the Twins do not have any interest in Prior at this time; but one must ask themselves, should they?
We all remember what Prior can do when he is healthy, but the last time Prior was fully healthy was back in his prime with the Cubs in the early 2000s. Prior’s shoulder may never be the same and his days as a starter—by all indications—are likely behind him; so it makes perfect sense that the Twins wouldn’t be interested in the Prior.
I wonder—however—if the Twins would be interested in Prior as a reliever if he showed that his shoulder had healed enough to be an effective pitcher again. The likelihood of that happening is similar to the likelihood of Minnesota Timberwolves‘ forward Brandon Roy’s knees returning to the form of his early years; plain and simple: it won’t happen. I do not fault Prior for giving it one last try to make it a career because let’s be honest, he was one heck of a pitcher when he was healthy. Because his shoulder can’t hold up to a full season of pitching as a starter, it could work out for Prior if he converted to a reliever like Kerry Wood and current Twins’ pitcher Rich Harden did after their careers were derailed by injury. Harden–however– is trying to make it as a starter this spring training with the Twins.
Prior could find a serviceable role in the majors again; I just have a hard time believing it would be as a Twin. I wouldn’t understand the Twins giving him much of an honest shot, simply because they have so many arms in camp already that I do not know if they could realistically give him enough opportunities to be properly evaluated and to test his shoulder out for durability. As a fan, I’d love to see Prior regain some portion of his former form and be able to contribute to the Twins, but I just cannot see it happening and working out with the team. I wish Prior the best of luck in making it back to the big leagues and, who knows, if Prior shows he can resurrect his career and make it back to the big leagues, maybe Steve Bartman will show his face and make it back to a Cubs game as well.