2006

03/12/2006 8:04 PM ET
Notes: Prior continues to make progress
Right-hander throws 35 pitches in Sunday simulation
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com

Mark Prior has a moderate strain of the subscapularis, which is in the front of the shoulder, but he feels the pain in the back. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)
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PHOENIX -- Mark Prior threw 35 pitches in a simulated game on Sunday at HoHoKam Park, and is continuing to make progress.
"He threw the ball pretty good," said manager Dusty Baker. "He was better the second inning than the first. The important thing was, he was on the mound. I thought he did pretty good."

Pitching coach Larry Rothschild said that he wants to wait until he sees Prior on Monday before announcing the next step. He and Baker can control how many pitches Prior throws in a simulated game better than they could in a Cactus League game.

"You want to build up innings," said Rothschild. "He could throw one inning [in a game] and throw 30 pitches and we'd have to get him out of there."

Prior will throw on Monday, take Tuesday off, then pitch again, most likely in another simulated game. There's still a chance that he could make three Cactus League starts.

"Hopefully, a minimum of three," said Rothschild. "I think if we build up the innings, three could be enough. I just have to see how he is [Monday] and go from there."

Baker said that there's plenty of time for Prior to get ready. Prior is tentatively scheduled to start the second game of the regular season, April 5 against Cincinnati.

"[Time's] not running out yet," said Baker. "He's progressing, that's what we want. Nothing's wrong, nothing hurts. It's just a matter of him getting on the mound."

Kerry Wood threw 12 pitches off the mound on Sunday, the first time he threw off the mound since he had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Tuesday.

"He threw about 12 pitches off the mound and a bunch off flat ground," said Rothschild. "It's pretty amazing to watch."

Wade Miller, rehabbing from arthroscopic shoulder surgery, had Sunday off and will throw off the mound for the second time on Monday.

Second chance: Now that Jerry Hairston Jr.'s headache is gone, he can concentrate on second base -- and showing that he's 100 percent recovered from an ankle injury that hindered him in 2005.

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"I really feel like myself again," said Hairston. "It's taken awhile. Obviously, I had a minor setback [when I was hit in the head by a pitch last week]. I feel good, and I'm trying to get back to playing again. I'm really focused on starting the season good. The thing we talk about in here is that we really want to get off to a good start. We know it's not a must, but it helps."

The Cubs should have a stronger running game this season with the addition of Juan Pierre and a healthy Hairston.

"You look at teams that have won the [World Series] the last three, four years, and they've had some type of speed," said Hairston. "You need it. Hopefully, we can add that to the game."