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Cubs pleased with pitchers' rehab progress

MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs right-hander Mark Prior could be
pitching off a mound by the end of the week, and rehabbing
right-handers Kerry Wood and Wade Miller threw well Wednesday in
their comebacks from shoulder problems.

Prior has had elbow problems during the past two spring
trainings.

"I think we're going to a pretty extensive throwing program
Friday and see how he reacts on Saturday, and go from there,"
pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. "There's a good chance he'll
get on the mound Sunday, but if he feels real good, we might
venture that on Friday. But we'll see."

Miller and Wood each played catch Wednesday, throwing about 120
feet.

"It's been impressive to where they are up to now," Rothschild
said. "They're throwing the ball with pretty good force behind it.
It's not so much what they can do today, but can they feel like
they can do it again tomorrow? That's the basis we pretty much use
to go forward."

Chicago is optimistic Prior can start in one of the first
exhibition games in early March. The Cubs hope Wood can be ready to
pitch in big league games in April and that Miller can be available
in May.

Rothschild said Wood would take Thursday off and resume throwing
Friday and that Miller would throw again Thursday.

Wood was on the disabled list from May 3 to June 28 last year
because of shoulder problems and again from July 21 to Aug. 5. He
ended the season in the bullpen, but the club plans on having him
start this year.

Miller's season with Boston last year was cut short by shoulder
pain.