The 32-year old right-handed pitcher has not pitched in the MLB since 2006 because of nagging arm injuries resulting from the belief that Dusty Baker had overused him and Kerry Wood when Baker was the manager of the Cubs.
Baker told the Enquire,
“He called me and said asked for a chance,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “I talked to Walt (Jocketty). (Prior) says he feels good. He feels like he has some unfinished business.”
The last time Prior pitched in the major leagues was 2006 when he went 1-6 with a 7.21 ERA in just nine games started that year. Many non-Baker fans have pointed the finger at Baker saying that he ruined the career of Prior. While some of that may be true consider that Prior through 233 innings including the playoffs as 22-year old kid, you can’t necessarily point the finger at Baker. If the kid says he’s healthy, of course Baker is going to give the ball to Prior in order to give the Cubs the best chance to win.
So, where was Prior during his what seemed like forever year hiatus? The last anyone saw him was during his time last year in Triple-A Pawtucket where Prior went 1-0 with a 3.96 ERA in 25 innings.
While Prior is attempting to make a comeback with the Reds, the question would be where to put him? You could make the argument he might still have enough left in the tank to put him in the starting rotation at Triple-A Louisville or Double-A Chattanooga. But for me, the best position for Prior would be somewhere in a reliever’s role.
Prior has not pitched in the majors since 2006. He’s essentially been out of baseball for a while now dealing with numerous arm injuries. There is no way anyone can convince me that he’s in shape to go six innings of baseball. If Prior were to step in a reliever’s spot, the chances of him succeeding are much higher than they would if here were to be put into the rotation.
All in all, I do think the Reds are at a low risk, high reward type of situation. If Prior performs well, the Reds could use him if someone in their bullpen. If it doesn’t Prior could always use the minors to get himself better and better for years to come.