Thursday, July 26, 2012

Conversation with Mark Prior

Early Thursday evening, I sat down with former Chicago Cubs wunderkind pitcher Mark Prior, who is attempting a comeback in professional baseball with the Boston Red Sox organization.

No joke, his steely gaze looks directly into your soul. (google images)
The oft-injured Prior was in Indianapolis with the Pawtucket Red Sox, Boston's Triple-A affiliate. He is working on making the transition from starting to relieving and has made 13 appearances out of the Pawtucket bullpen, posting a 1-0 record and 3.12 ERA.

On Tuesday afternoon, Prior pitched two scoreless innings against the Indians, allowing one hit while picking up a pair of strikeouts.

I spoke with Prior on behalf of Sports Illustrated baseball writer and injury expert Will Carroll, who was unable to make it to Victory Field. The questions are my own:

The Raines Delay: "First of all, how has the season gone for you so far in terms of making the comeback and pitching again?"

Mark Prior: "It's going good. You know, learning my way as a reliever. Just trying to learn my way and get used to the grind of a season with my body and my arm. But overall, I think it's been going pretty good."

TRD: "What has that switch from starter to reliever been like for you?"

MP: "It's been good. You know, there's some different approaches that you take as far as the preparation that you take, trying to understand how much you need to throw between outings, before outings, stuff like that. It's different from starting, where you're pretty regimented; once you start throwing as a starter, you basically get it all done and then you have time to recover. But as a reliever, you've got to go out and get your long toss in, you have to figure out what's enough -- how much do I need? -- to maintain arm strength and stuff like that but have enough left in the tank to go out and pitch that night or the next night or whatever.

So, that's been one adjustment: preparation from a physical standpoint. And then I think it's just different, you know, starting you just work your way into the flow of the game versus relieving, you have to come in throwing strikes right away, and a lot of it depends on the situation that you're coming into."

TRD: "What about starting with the new organization, with the Red Sox, how has that been working out for you?"

MP: "It's been great. They've been great to me here. I really like the way they run their program from top to bottom. I saw what they did down in extended [spring training] and what they started teaching their young guys here and just kind of what they do at this level (Triple-A) with a mixture of young and old guys that have been around. I've been impressed with their whole program, they way they try to take care of their guys, to put them in positions to get on the field and to succeed."

TRD: "What are you plans for the future?"

MP: "I haven't got that far, you know? Honestly, I'm just worried about day-to-day, more or less. I want to finish the year out strong, wherever that is. And then, you know, just reevaluate at the end of the year like I've done every year, see where I'm at and see what I've done and where I can improve and what opportunities are out there."

Michael Raines writes for indyindians.com and can be reached at therainesdelay@gmail.com. You can follow him at www.twitter.com/Michael__Raines.

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