Boston Red Sox: Mark Prior

Sox release ex-Cub Mark Prior

August, 17, 2012
NEW YORK -- Mark Prior's bid to return to the major leagues with the Red Sox has come to an end.

The former Chicago Cubs star was given his release by Triple-A Pawtucket to make room for Pedro Beato, the right-handed pitcher the Sox acquired from the New York Mets in the Kelly Shoppach deal.

Prior, 31, made 19 appearances for the PawSox this season, going 1-0 with a 3.96 ERA. But he walked 23 batters in 25 innings, compared to 38 strikeouts.

Prior (oblique) working his way back

July, 2, 2012
PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- Pawtucket Red Sox pitcher Mark Prior has been on the seven-day disabled list since June 22 with an oblique strain, but he was able to throw a bullpen session on Sunday and is scheduled to toss a batting practice session on Tuesday.

“[Sunday] was good and I feel pretty good today,” Prior said. “I don’t feel anything more than normal stiffness from the bus ride. I felt good throwing today and my arm feels great. I’ll take it day by day. The reason I’m throwing to hitters tomorrow is to really challenge myself and see how it responds with some intensity.”

The veteran right-hander said he’s hoping to return before the All-Star break if he continues to progress. The Red Sox signed him as a minor league free agent on May 2. In nine innings with Pawtucket, Prior has allowed three earned runs on four hits with 20 strikeouts and eight walks.

Mark Prior

Video: Prior's battle to join Sox

June, 21, 2012
PM ET’s Gordon Edes and Joe McDonald discuss Mark Prior's odds of joining the Red Sox this season and Daniel Bard's chances of joining the bullpen.

McDonald reports that Prior said last week that it was easier getting to the big leagues the first time around. McDonald notes that Prior has put up decent numbers in Triple-A Pawtucket, and thinks that Fenway Park could be in Prior's future, provided he stays healthy.

As for Bard? Joey Mac -- having said since spring training that he should be in the bullpen -- says Bard will be the Red Sox closer by season's end.

Prior still pushing on comeback trail

June, 6, 2012
PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- When he was 20, Mark Prior was a stud pitcher in the Chicago Cubs organization and knew it was only a matter of time before he was pitching in the big leagues.

He accomplished that goal as a 21-year-old and spent a total of five seasons in the majors with the Cubs before a slew of injuries derailed his once-promising career.

Now, at age 31, he’s hoping for another chance in the majors, only this time with the Boston Red Sox.

“It’s a lot harder this time around,” Prior said Wednesday afternoon at McCoy Stadium. “When I was coming up with Chicago, I almost don’t want to say it was a guarantee that it was going to happen, but I knew I was going to get to the big leagues.

“I knew, physically, I could get guys out. I know, physically, now I can get guys out, but things are different. Is there an opportunity? Is there a place that you would slot in? Back then, I was their high draft pick. They were going to make room. That’s not the situation here. That’s not the situation for most people who get to the big leagues.”

The Sox recently signed the right-hander to a minor league deal, and after spending a few weeks at the club’s spring training facility in Fort Myers, Fla., Prior was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket on June 1.

The former starter is attempting to reinvent himself as a reliever. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2006 due to a pair of shoulder surgeries in 2007 and 2008. Prior also missed 2009 season and made failed attempts to comeback in 2010 and 2011.

The New York Yankees signed him in 2011 but he suffered a groin injury and needed surgery to repair a sports hernia. During the winter he spoke with longtime friend and Red Sox director of player personnel Dave Finley.

Prior explained that his groin was healthy and he was ready to attempt another comeback. He was only looking for advice when Finley said he would stop by and watch Prior throw a bullpen session near his home in San Diego.

Finley liked what he saw and invited Prior to Fort Myers for a three-week evaluation with “no strings attached” and “no guarantees.” It was an offer Prior quickly accepted.

“I went down there and obviously caught their attention,” Prior said. “They liked what they saw. It’s as simple as that.”

He was assigned to Pawtucket and worked one scoreless inning of relief with one walk and one strikeout last Saturday in Lehigh Valley.

“I want to be in Boston, just like everybody else in here,” Prior said of his PawSox teammates. “They want to be in Boston. I’m not na´ve not to know what that bullpen is doing is unbelievable. I’m pitching here to get to Boston. I want to be there. I think I can help them when I do get there.”

It doesn’t matter to Prior which role he’s asked to perform, it’s all about getting back to the majors and being part of a World Series team, something that eluded him during his time with the Cubs.

“I want to get to the big leagues, but if I can get to the big leagues and have a shot at a championship, that’s awesome,” he said.

For the time being, Prior will continue to hone his once-dominant skills with the PawSox and will try to stay healthy and productive in hopes of a call up to Boston.

“I’m enjoying the time that I’m here, obviously with the goal and the mindset that I want to make it to the next level,” he said. “It’s kind of like I’m in a situation where I can say I never made it to the big leagues. That’s what it’s like for me. I’m trying to work my way up and fight and grind. It’ll be like my first call-up again -- under different circumstances, but it would be fun.”

Mark Prior

Pedroia out, Youk rests, Gonzo at 1B

June, 1, 2012
TORONTO -- Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia took grounders during batting practice Friday but remained out of the lineup for a fourth straight game.

Pedroia hasn't played since jamming his right thumb in the fifth inning of Monday's win over Detroit after, an injury later diagnosed as a torn muscle.

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine joined provided an optimistic outlook.

"It's the meaty part of the hand, where the ... muscles that control the thumb get bruised by a pitch being thrown inside and the bat vibrating in the hand," Valentine said during his weekly appearance on the Michael Kay Show on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. "Most of his swelling is down, he's gripping a bat, he played catch [Thursday].

"I don't think the DL is going to be in the cards for him. That being said, he's not ready to play just yet, so we're playing -- as they say -- a man short."

Valentine added that while there is natural concern that Pedroia could get hurt worse when he's able to return, he's not worried about it.

"I think Dustin can go out there and play, and not be affected at all, unless a re-occurrence of the original situation presents itself. That fastball that comes inside that you don't get the head of the bat out and you get your hands out, and it hits close to your hand and you get that vibration, it can be painful."

Nonetheless, Valentine did not offer any specifics in Toronto on when Pedroia might be able to resume hitting. The 2008 AL MVP has had a special brace fitted to his bats, but has been told not to swing until swelling in the thumb subsides.

"We just want to let nature take its time," Valentine said before the Red Sox faced the Blue Jays.

Pedroia took grounders from bench coach Tim Bogar during the first half of batting practice, then walked off the field and returned to the clubhouse.

Valentine had hinted Thursday that Boston would not continue to play short-handed through the weekend, with speculation rife that infielder Pedro Ciriaco would be promoted from Triple-A Pawtucket.

Rookie Will Middlebrooks, who played shortstop in high school, took grounders at short before Thursday's loss to Detroit.

Like Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis was also out of the lineup Friday, a scheduled day off. Valentine said he offered Youkilis the chance to take consecutive days off Sunday and Monday, when Boston does not play, but Youkilis preferred to split up his days of rest.

Youkilis, the subject of trade rumors, is batting .313 (10 for 32) with two homers in nine games since returning from a 22-game absence caused by a sore back.

"He's been great," Valentine said. "Youk's 100 percent and when Youk is 100 percent, he's a really good member of the team. He's playing good defense, running the bases well and having good at bats."

Nick Punto started at second base Friday, with Will Middlebrooks at third and Adrian Gonzalez at first base and Ryan Sweeney in right.

Asked whether Gonzalez, who has started eight of the past 12 games in right, would return to the outfield this weekend, Valentine said "maybe," and denied suggestions Gonzalez is unhappy in right.

"I don't sense that," Valentine said. "There's been no indication of that."

Valentine called the defensive rotation between Gonzalez, Youkilis and Middlebrooks "a workable situation but maybe not long term."

"I think after the off day would be a good time to collect everyone's thoughts on it, or maybe even in the next couple of days," he said. "It just depends on how it affects the guys physically and mentally."

While Pedroia's situation remained murky, there was clearer news for a trio of Red Sox currently on the disabled list:

" Outfielder Cody Ross, out with a fractured left foot, has told Valentine he "feels great." Ross will have his walking boot removed and undergo a physical exam when the Red Sox return home next week, and could be cleared to resume baseball activities or begin a minor league rehab stint.

" Right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka (right elbow) allowed two runs, including a solo homer, in 5 1/3 innings at Pawtucket on Thursday, his second rehab start.

"He's staying there, he's going to throw his bullpen there and throw again (Tuesday)," Valentine said. "The reports were much better. First inning home run, up to 94, sat at 91, had a good changeup. Worked quick with men on base, there were only a couple of men on base."

" Outfielder Darnell McDonald (right oblique) is also at Pawtucket, and will play through the weekend there.

" Also joining the PawSox this weekend is right-hander Mark Prior. The former first-round pick, who last pitched in the majors in 2006, was signed to a minor league deal last month and had been at extended spring training.

Valentine called Prior's advance a "great story."

"He's made constant progress. People have liked his attitude and his throwing ability."

Ian Harrison is a special contributor to

Sox ink ex-Cub Mark Prior to minors deal

May, 2, 2012

BOSTON -- The Red Sox have signed former star pitcher Mark Prior to a minor league deal.

CLICK HERE to read the full story.

Mark Prior