Prior Has Bold Plans

Mark Prior has not been on an Opening Day roster for the past three seasons because of injuries.

But this year, he plans on staying healthy during spring training. And even though the Cubs are not counting on him being one of the top four pitchers in their rotation (he is fighting Wade Miller, Neal Cotts and Sean Marshall for the fifth spot), he has bold plans.

"I absolutely believe I'll be in the starting rotation this year," Prior said. "I don't care where I am in the rotation -- it doesn't matter after the first week. But I plan on being in the rotation on Opening Day."

Prior's latest battle has been with his right shoulder. Last year, he was 1-6 with a 7.21 ERA in nine starts. The rest of the season was spent trying to get the shoulder back in shape.

Since going 18-6 and leading the Cubs to the playoffs in 2003, Prior has been on the disabled list five times, and that has some critics questioning his desire.

"Is it fair for me to tell you whether you are hurt or not?" Prior said. "Who is to say? I would never judge somebody whether they are hurt or not. You can't tell. Everybody is different.

"Trust me, you can't get to this level unless you want to play. That's just the bottom line. You get weeded out in a hurry if you really don't want to play the game. You don't just show up."

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