After several attempts at comebacks, Prior has no regrets and holds his head up high, proud of his short-lived career.
Just a two weeks after the Cubs decided to non-tender Prior, the San Diego Padres signed him to a one-year deal which included $1M with incentivized bonuses.
Unfortunately for Prior, his comeback was halted while rehabbing, suffering a tearing in his throwing shoulder and San Diego released him in August.
Prior attempted several comebacks from 2010-13, signing minor league deals with the Texas Rangers, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and the Cincinnati Reds, however, could never shake the injury bug and get back to his form he showcased in ’03.
Interesting insights by pitching mechanics analyst Chris O’Leary regarding Prior’s delivery pointed out that his once touted symmetrical delivery was harmful to his arm.
He states that Prior’s “inverted W arm action,” which saw him lift his elbows above his shoulders while his forearm pointed down, created stress on his shoulder muscles and ligaments.
Another term for this is known as scapular loading or, as author and pitching consultant Paul Nyman refers to, “proud chest.” This is when the movement pinches a pitcher’s shoulder blades together and is often seen in pitcher’s trying to throw at a high velocity.
For more insight on these pitching mechanics, I strongly suggest O’Leary’s 2009 essay as it is filled with so much perspective on Mark Prior’s (and other’s) pitching mechanics helped me research and breakdown what occurred and caused his short-lived career.
Today, Mark Prior doesn’t blame Dusty Baker for his arm issues or even his arm delivery and pitching mechanics. He blames no one. In 2016, he stated in Sports Illustrated that his problems more so came from his broken elbow he suffered from the Hawpe line drive in 2005 and his collision with Giles in 2003.
Out of baseball for more than ten years now, Prior has no regrets and is just happy to be back in baseball. He is currently the bullpen coach for the Los Angles Dodgers.
While his career was short-lived and his name will always be synonymous with “what-if’s,” Mark Prior’s 2003 season was brilliant, and he was a big part of that beloved team. Cub fans will forever hold a soft spot in their hearts for Prior so, perhaps honorary or arbitrary, he is a Hero of Wrigley.