Q&A with Prior

PEORIA -- Mark Prior met with the media following his second rehab start for Class-A Peoria on Saturday night at O'Brien Field. The Cubs pitcher offered up the following answers to the reporters' questions.

Q: Do you feel you made good progress from Memorial Day?

A: Yeah. I think it was a lot. I felt great out there. I threw all my pitches. I felt pretty comfortable.

Q: At an assignment like this, what is the goal?

A: The goal the other day was to throw strikes and get ahead of guys. The goal today was to try to find my breaking ball and I think I did it in that [fourth] inning. I was able to kind of find another gear in that [fourth] inning and work my way out of trouble and try to get out of it. Today I really wanted to concentrate on throwing first pitch strikes. I think I was 9 for 17. I would like to get that up to maybe 11, 12, 13, and 17.

Q: What was your estimate of how many breaking balls you threw?

A: I threw a lot more. I definitely threw more than the four I did on Monday. With 59 pitches, I probably threw somewhere between 14 to 20 to give you a range. I threw probably somewhere between seven and 10 in that [fourth] inning alone especially with their big hitters.

Q: What do you need to do now to get major league ready?

A: I think more than anything it's just stamina. I was happy with the way I threw the ball, the way my fastball was moving. I had a lot of movement on the ball. Some sink and some boar. My slurve was real good. My changeup, for me, was as good as it's been. I think right now it's just stamina. I threw 60 pitches; I'm assuming they are going to want me to be up to somewhere between 90 before they are comfortable with putting me in a game at that level. If you figure going up 15 at a time, it's kind of one and half [more rehab games], or in that in-between stage. And obviously you want to increase the talent you are playing against, so do I make a jump up from here to Triple-A and make one or two starts there? That's not really up to me. It's up to them, what they think, and what they hear. And once I get their input, then I'll give them my input.

Q: How close are you to returning?

A: I'm close. I feel that I'm close. I think now more than anything it's just stamina. I felt good throwing. In the fifth inning [when I] went out, I was a little bit tired, but I don't think I'm too far off.

Q: You only got up to 90 mph a couple of times tonight. Does that concern you?

A: I don't really pay attention to what it says on the gun. A lot of the times those are wrong. A lot of times they don't mean anything. What I see, what I look and watch for, either when I'm pitching or other people are, you watch people's swings, you watch the contact, you watch the bat. I had two balls hit hard: the line drive to left and the hanging curveball into right center. Those are things that I watch for. You're looking for people's swings. Awkward swings, check swings. What are they seeing? I don't personally worry about it. I know I'm getting close. My breaking ball speeds were right where they normally are. My changeup speeds were 81 to 86. They're where they normally are. If those things are where they normally are, the fastball will come. I've always been a guy who takes a while to get going.

Q: Are you surprised there is this much attention for a rehab start?

A: If you would have asked me that three years ago, I would have said yes. But nothing really surprises me anymore. I think this is part of the territory of where we play and who we play for. It's something that you have to respect and you try to deal with it as professionally as you can and you hope you get the counter-respect from the other side.

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