Write Derek at drksmart @ gmail.com
Write Phil at phil.bencomo @ gmail.com
by Derek Smart
"Concerns" about Mark Prior have begun to surface already, with reports here, here, here, and here about his relatively slow pace at the start of the spring, and the illness in December that's linked to his being behind schedule.
Here's the thing: this sort of report is exactly what gets bloggers as a species in trouble. Either we write about how this is a sign of disaster to come, or we take the insistence of mere caution from the players and coaches at face value and write it off as nothing to worry about, and in both cases it's simple enough to cast off the expressed opinions as paranoid mania or head-in-the-sand, Kool-Aid drinking.
The extra issue in this particular case is that there's reasonable cause to be in either camp. Prior hasn't been completely healthy and on-schedule during the Spring since 2003, and the club has been notoriously close-lipped and dodgy in their discussions of player health over the last couple seasons. However, in past instances the club has never put a date on Prior's or any truly injured pitcher's return, and they've already said that The Franchise would get into a Cactus League game on March 5th or 6th.
So, I guess I'm showing my true colors (sickly, bright, yellow) and coming out on the side of equivocation, here. I can understand how a guy can be laid up for two weeks during a time when he would normally have started his preparations for the season and come into camp in need of catching up, yet I can also see why, past history being what it is, folks might start to get antsy at yet another delay for Prior at the start of a season.
In other words, my head says it's no big deal, but despite its rational intervention, it can't stop my stomach from reflexively churning. Get me a couple of solid, workman-like Spring starts and I'm all better, but until then, I'll be the same ol' mess o' nerves.
UPDATE: To add to our collective breathlessness and frayed nerves, our fellow Toastmaster, Will Carroll, reports in UTK today (sub. required) that according to the source that tipped him early and accurately on Prior's Achilles issues, The Franchise is now experiencing shoulder problems. I will pause for a moment, whilst you all cry.