In baseball, the name was Mark Prior. In 2003, he was Mr. Baseball and Mr. Chicago Cub. Now, nine years later, he is working on making a comeback to the majors with the Red Sox.
Prior's career is like the Cubs' franchise. Every April when the Cubs have hopes of winning the World Series, it collapses early. He's had several injuries to his shoulders, underwent intense surgeries, and is just a few months away from possibly helping the Red Sox earn a ticket to October baseball.
Prior last stepped foot on a Major League Baseball mound on Aug. 10, 2006. He's been used primarily as a reliever in Pawtucket and at 31, that might be where he is most effective. Because he has had shoulder and arm injuries, the biggest concern is his velocity. Prior is still hitting 90 miles per hour on the radar gun, according to ESPN.com.
Once September rolls around and major league rosters increase from a 25-man roster to 40, Prior may be called into Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler's office with news that he's being sent up to Boston as a September call-up.
In Pawtucket, he is 1-0 with a 3.52 ERA. Beyeler has used him as a reliever and he's tossed 15 1/3 innings giving up only seven hits and striking out 28. The only downside is the 15 walks he's allowed. He has one save and earned it by striking out two in an inning pitched.
Prior was once one of the biggest names that batters feared. He was 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA in 2003, the year he was part of a rotation that featured Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano and old friend Matt Clement. Prior struck out 245 batters in 211 1/3 innings. He was an All-Star that year and finished third in Cy Young voting.
Prior is older now but deserves the opportunity to try to bring his career back to what it was. He is not too old to be successful and help a team win. The Red Sox could use him in the back end of the bullpen as a lights out set-up man to Alfredo Aceves, and if things in the rotation were to drastically worsen, using him for a start or two would be a novel idea.
Photo courtesy of Flickr/Scott Ableman