“They always want to blame somebody,” Baker said in March regarding criticism of his handling of Prior in Chicago. “It’s usually someone at the top.” (Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports)

Cincinnati Reds Release Mark Prior


Former major league pitcher Mark Prior has been released by Cincinnati, according to reports. Armando Galarraga was added to Louisville’s seven-day disabled list in a corresponding move.

The 32-year-old hurler pitched in seven games with the Triple-A Bats, garnering a 0-0 record with a 4.66 earned run average. However, a right shoulder strain kept Prior on the shelf for over two months, and it appears that his limited progress spelled the end of the journeyman’s comeback effort.

Selected by the Chicago Cubs with the second pick of the 2001 amateur draft, the Southern California product blazed through the minor leagues and made his major league debut one year later. Prior was part of the Cubs rotation from 2002 to 2006, playing under the watch of current Reds manager Dusty Baker for all but his rookie season. With a career-high eighteen wins in 2003, Prior received All-Star honors and ended the campaign with 245 strikeouts, the second-highest mark in the National League.

His major league career ended prematurely as he spent the majority of the 2006 season on the disabled list with a muscle strain on his pitching arm. Following a month-long rehabilitation assignment, Prior suffered six losses in nine starts with the Cubs before returning to the disabled list in August with a shoulder injury. After missing a full season with Chicago, Prior was granted free agency in December 2007 and signed with the San Diego Padres.

Prior started the 2008 season where so many had ended, waiting on the 60-day disabled list with a right shoulder strain before surgery cost him another year in the big leagues. His subsequent minor league contract was short-lived, and the Friars cut Prior loose in August 2009.

With his career left for dead, Prior attempted returns to professional baseball on four separate occasions. A stint in independent ball preceded a singular appearance with the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City, but Prior signed with the New York Yankees later in the offseason. Now thirty years old, the starter-turned-reliever posted no record and a 2.25 ERA across three levels of the minor leagues. Pitching in eleven games while reaching as high as Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Prior again opted for free agency before the Boston Red Sox signed him in May.

As a member of Pawtucket bullpen, Prior picked up one victory and his first professional save across nineteen relief appearances. Opponents were hitting only .172 against the major league veteran, but a 3.96 ERA and less-than-impressive walk totals demonstrated that Prior was hardly the same fireballer who debuted a decade earlier.

It remains to be seen if Prior’s fourth comeback attempt in as many years will indeed be his last.

Kourage Kundahl is the lead blogger and editor of Hook, Line, and Sinker, the official blog of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, as well as a contributing writer to Blog Red Machine. You can keep up with him as he live-tweets every Wahoos game by following @wahoosblog.

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