Wood, Prior eager to make debuts
Duo hopes to prove health is not an issue this spring
MESA, Ariz. -- Neither Kerry Wood nor Mark Prior have pitched in a Cactus League game since 2005, but the two Cubs pitchers will be in the same game on Monday and maybe then they'll be able to answer questions about their health.
The two will both appear in the Cubs' game against the Seattle Mariners in Peoria, Ariz. Prior is scheduled to start and go two innings, followed by newcomer Ted Lilly, and then Wood.
"I'm ready to go," Wood said Sunday. "More than anything, it'll be nice to get out there and get the adrenaline going. I've faced hitters a few times and my arm feels good, but I've lacked the adrenaline for a while now. It'd be nice to get out there and get that first one out of the way."
Wood, 29, was limited to four starts last season as he tried to come back from arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder. He was shut down after being diagnosed with a partial tear in his right rotator cuff. Will finally appearing in a game stop all the questions about Wood's shoulder?
"That'll probably never stop," Wood said. "It's been a good spring so far. I've been blending in and getting my work in."
Prior, 26, has made one Cactus League start in the last three years, and that was in 2005. His right shoulder has been an issue, too, and he spent the winter strengthening it. Will finally getting in a game put an end to Prior being the center of attention?
"I guess," he said. "Everybody's been writing me off anyways, but you're at my locker every day. I know if I'm pitching every fifth day it's no story. I'm doing everything I can to pitch until my body tells me otherwise, I'll go about my business."
Wood and Prior were considered the cornerstones that the Cubs could build on. Instead, injuries have kept the two on the side. Prior made nine starts last season and came into camp without a spot guaranteed. Wood now is designated for the bullpen as a setup pitcher.
"I just do what I do," Prior said. "When people were blowing me up after '02 and '03, it didn't change the way I approached things at all. Obviously, things have turned but that's just the nature of the business. It's what have you done for me lately, and what are you going to do for me tomorrow. It doesn't change the focus of what I'll put into a game or prepare for a game. I always work the same way."
Carlos Zambrano, Jason Marquis, Ted Lilly and Rich Hill appear set for the Cubs rotation. There's one opening, which Prior hopes to fill.
"If I prove I'm healthy, I'll have a position," Prior said. "At the end of the spring, who knows? It's not up to me. The only thing I focus on is going out and pitching. All the other decisions aren't made by me. I don't have any control over it, so it doesn't affect what I do. It doesn't change the way I pitch or compete any less or more based on question marks on where I might be. It really doesn't matter."
Monday's game won't be the first time Wood and Prior have pitched in the same game. In 2005, when Wood switched to the bullpen, he appeared in relief in three of Prior's starts in August.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.