Cubs Notebook: March 16

Mark Prior could be in for his own version of "Groundhog Day."

It's possible that every spring, Prior will feel some discomfort in his right (throwing) elbow and the Cubs are trying to figure out a way to prevent that. "We tried to stair-step him into games to avoid this," pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. "It could very well be a situation that Mark goes through this every spring training. The way he extends his curveball and pushes himself with the hitters, he may go through this every year."

Last year, Prior missed all of spring training and two months of the regular season with elbow and Achilles tendon problems. It's possible that every spring, Prior will feel some discomfort in his right (throwing) elbow and the Cubs are trying to figure out a way to prevent that.

"We tried to stair-step him into games to avoid this," pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. "It could very well be a situation that Mark goes through this every spring training. The way he extends his curveball and pushes himself with the hitters, he may go through this every year."

Last year, Prior missed all of spring training and two months of the regular season with elbow and Achilles tendon problems.

This year, he pitched in a simulated game when the Cactus League season started and then pitched three innings of an exhibition game Thursday.

Prior had an MRI performed on Sunday and was shut down on Monday even though the MRI did not show anything more than inflammation.

NOTES

--RHP Kerry Wood threw off flat ground for the second straight day on Tuesday and will try to throw from the mound on Wednesday -- one week after he left a Cactus League game with tightness in his right shoulder.

--INF Michael Fontenot, LHP John Koronka and LHP Russ Rohlicek were optioned to Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday.

--INF Dave Hansen, a non-roster player who was fighting for one of the last position spots on the roster, will miss two or three weeks after undergoing an emergency appendectomy.

--RHP Angel Guzman could be in the mix for a starting job if injured pitchers Kerry Wood and Mark Prior can't start the season. Guzman underwent shoulder surgery in 2003 and made just 11 starts in 2004 before he was shut down. General manager Jim Hendry said he would prefer if Guzman picked up some minor league starts before he pitches in the majors.

--LHP Glendon Rusch, fighting for a spot in the starting rotation, gave up five runs in four innings against the White Sox on Monday. He was battling Ryan Dempster and Sergio Mitre for the fifth spot in the rotation, but the Cubs might need more than one of the three to contribute if injured pitchers Kerry Wood and Mark Prior can't start the season.


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