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Repeat After Me...

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... "it's only spring training... it's only spring training... it's only spring training..."

Right?

OK, now we have scare headline #2, courtesy of Yahoo! Sports:

Prior out indefinitely with inflammation in right elbow

Read the article and it doesn't sound all that bad:

"I was going through some of my normal exercises after I pitch, and I told Mark [O'Neal, the trainer], 'Something doesn't feel right back here, not necessarily unusual, but just different,'" Prior said. "As the day went on, it just got a little bit stiffer."

Then the article finishes:

[Larry] Rothschild said he expects both pitchers to be ready to make their first start of the regular season.

Again, I am reserving judgment until I hear more definitive news. This isn't a political scandal, where we get new news leaks every day; you really do have to take this day-to-day.

I think this is starting to get to the rest of the team, too. They kind of sleepwalked through a 9-5 loss to the White Sox, putting them at 6-7, under .500 for the first time this spring.

Here's how bad it got. It was very windy at Mesa today, the wind blowing from the west-southwest, which is blowing out toward right field. This resulted in seven home runs, one for our side, six for theirs, and as I was out for a while running errands, I listened to the Sox radio broadcast. Farmer and Rooney must have really bought into the Ozzieball speed-pitching-and-defense retooling of the Sox, because they were actually apologizing for the Sox hitting so many homers today. It was weird.

As predicted, the first few innings flew by; Mark Buehrle was so much in control that Guillen let him go six innings -- and those six innings were completed in an hour and ten minutes. Somewhere, Sandy Alderson is smiling at that pace. And here's how that pace helps you: Buehrle struck out Corey Patterson in the first and made him look stupid: pitch one, swinging strike low; pitch two, swinging strike down the middle; pitch three, called third strike on a slider down and in. The whole at-bat must have lasted less than a minute.

That's an inning after Glendon Rusch turned a 4-1 game into an 8-1 game in what seemed like about 30 seconds; the Sox hit four homers off him, three in the fifth inning alone, and though most of them were windblown, it was not Rusch's day. When Larry Rothschild came out to talk to Rusch after the third homer, Ed Farmer (and I have to be the only one in Chicago who actually doesn't mind listening to Farmer) was talking about how Rothschild grew up on the South Side of Chicago and that the two of them, only four or so years apart in age, have known each other since they were kids.

That's the sort of thing that connects us to baseball history, and I don't think any other sport really has that.

Ryan Dempster, who threw the first four innings, pitched well enough -- giving up four runs, but at least throwing strikes. He only walked one, and no doubt with both Wood and Prior on the shelf, will get another chance five days from now. Mike Remlinger threw a nice 9th inning, which is encouraging.

The Cub offense was slow to get going; Jason Dubois had an RBI single, Michael Barrett hit his first homer of the spring, and Derrek Lee had three hits and an RBI.

Len Kasper and Bob Brenly had another capably-done telecast and seemed much more comfortable with each other. Will someone please tell the people at CSN Chicago that they are the home channel for both Chicago baseball teams and thus the scorebox should not identify those clubs as "CHW" and "CHC"?

Incidentally, if you are reading this from the Chicago area and it is before 7 pm CT on Monday, CSN is repeating the telecast at that time, so you have another chance to see it today.

Tomorrow's game is the last one I shall report on from my basement -- Wednesday is an off-day, the last one till Sunday, April 3, and then I'll be at Phoenix Muni for the St. Patrick's Day matchup between the Cubs and A's on Thursday.