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Monday, March 14, 2005
Updated: March 16, 12:02 PM ET
Current injury not related to last year

Associated Press

MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs ace Mark Prior will be out indefinitely because of inflammation in his right elbow, the latest injury to one of Chicago's star pitchers.

Mark Prior
Starting Pitcher
Chicago Cubs
21 6 4 0 139 4.02

Kerry Wood, slated to start on Opening Day, is sidelined with bursitis in his right shoulder.

Cubs trainer Mark O'Neal said Monday the 24-year-old Prior has some inflammation in the elbow joint and a little irritation to the ulnar nerve.

Prior missed the first two months of last season because of right Achilles' tendinitis and stiffness in his right elbow. Last July, he missed a start because of discomfort in the elbow. But Prior and O'Neal both said the current injury is not related to last year's problem.

"It's different," Prior said. "It's not the same injury."

Prior made his Cactus League debut Thursday, when he threw three innings against the Seattle Mariners in Peoria. He said Monday that while doing some routine postgame exercises afterward, he felt discomfort in the elbow.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said Prior saw elbow specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum last weekend and had a precautionary MRI on Sunday.

"There is no damage to the nerve," Hendry said. "The ligament remains exactly the same from the MRI last year."

Prior was supposed to pitch Tuesday against Kansas City but will miss that start. O'Neal said that in addition to rest, Prior is taking anti-inflammatory medication and the Cubs would see how he responds to the rest and medication before determining when he will begin throwing again.

"I was going through some of my normal exercises after I pitch, and I told Mark, 'Something doesn't feel right back here, not necessarily unusual, but just different," Prior said. "As the day went on, it just got a little bit stiffer.

"I came in the next morning and told them, and that's when we decided to get everything checked out," he said.

Prior is scheduled to make his first start on April 5 at Arizona, the Cubs' second game of the season.

Wood played catch on flat ground Monday, testing his right shoulder. He was not available for comment, but pitching coach Larry Rothschild said Wood felt fine, and if he feels well Tuesday morning he might play catch again.

Rothschild said it's possible Wood could throw off a mound on Wednesday.

Wood took himself out of last Wednesday's start against Texas after complaining of tightness in the shoulder. The Cubs sent him back to Chicago the next day for an MRI. The MRI and a doctor's exam revealed bursitis and inflammation around the rotator-cuff muscles, the Cubs said.

Rothschild said he expects both pitchers to be ready to make their first start of the regular season.