Cubs gear up for another Cross-town series

The Cubs are playing the team with the best record in baseball, the Chicago White Sox, and a potential Jon Garland/Mark Prior matchup could be the main event on Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field.

If Prior pitches, that is.

Prior suffered a non-displaced fracture of his right elbow when he was hit by a line drive on May 27. Anyone who witnessed it assumed the worst. Even Prior thought it could be career threatening.

But he's quickly bounced back from it and has made two simulated starts on Friday and Tuesday and if he doesn't feel pain in the arm or suffer any setbacks, he could face ex-Cubs farmhand Garland, who is one of the best pitchers in the American League this year.

The Cubs and Sox played in May at Wrigley Field and Prior was the only Cubs pitcher to notch a victory. The Cubs avoided a sweep when he threw a complete-game victory in a 4-3 triumph on May 20.

"I've really been taking it day-by-day because I didn't know what to think," Prior said. "From going to being on the ground thinking that it's possibly a career-ending injury to a season-ending injury to coming back throwing in this situation in less than a month - obviously I'm very pleased."

If Prior isn't able to go on Sunday, look for Jerome Williams to make his second start in a Cubs uniform. Williams gave up two runs on three hits in seven innings in a 4-2 victory over Milwaukee on Tuesday in his debut with the team.


--1B Derrek Lee could be getting the Barry Bonds-Sammy Sosa treatment since he has gone this far into the season in contention for a Triple Crown.

Lee was intentionally walked twice in Monday's 5-4 victory over Milwaukee and had been given eight intentional walks on the season.

And more are sure to come.

"I imagine that will keep happening," manager Dusty Baker said. "You go into meetings and say, 'Don't let this guy beat you.' It's going to happen for sure. The key is how the other guys handle it.

"When I was batting behind Hank Aaron they were walking Hank. They told me and I tell our guys not to take it personally. You don't want to strike out overswinging in those situations where you're upset that they walked a man to get to you. Hank told me if you hit singles and doubles, that will stop them from walking the guy."

--RHP Mark Prior threw 74 pitches in a simulated game against teammates Jose Macias and Jason Dubois. Prior, who has a non-displaced fracture of his right elbow, said he felt good and threw all of his pitches. He could make a start against the White Sox on Sunday, but the Cubs will wait a few days before making that decision.

--RHP Jerome Williams made his Cubs debut against Milwaukee and gave up two runs (both on Bill Hall solo shots) on three hits with four walks and six strikeouts. After this appearance, Williams' next time in the rotation is unknown. His next start would normally be Sunday against the White Sox, but Mark Prior could return off the disabled list.

--LHP Mike Remlinger has been having a hard time getting batters out in clutch situations recently, but he struck out Milwaukee's Lyle Overbay and Carlos Lee with two on to get out of a seventh-inning jam in Monday night's 5-4 victory over the Brewers. He thinks a recent stay on the disabled list (injured left pinkie finger) might have helped rejuvenate him. "It afforded me an opportunity to just take a little time away and give my full body a chance to get strong again," Remlinger said. "I don't think I had to have that opportunity, but I think it definitely has proved to be a benefit."

--RHP Kerry Wood is expected to make his third and final rehab start on Friday for Triple-A Iowa before rejoining the rotation.

--RHP Greg Maddux tied Tom Seaver for 17th place on the all-time list with his 311th victory Monday. Gaylord Perry is next on the list at 314.

--CF Corey Patterson, whom manager Dusty Baker has had problems finding a regular spot in the lineup, batted eighth for the first time this season in Sunday's game against the New York Yankees.

--RHP Scott Williamson, who had "Tommy John" elbow surgery last year, is progressing and could be helping out the parent club's bullpen by the end of July.

BY THE NUMBERS: 18 1/3 -- Consecutive scoreless innings thrown by starting pitcher Sergio Mitre before the New York Yankees scored on him on Sunday.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm busted. It's one of those things where I had a tough time gripping the ball. A lot of time I spit in my hand. I usually use snot if I have it. But I don't have a lot of snot." --Cubs closer Ryan Dempster joking around after White Sox LHP Mark Buehrle told a Chicago radio station that he thought one of the veteran Cubs pitchers was throwing a spitball.

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