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The Cubs have today off, their only off day of the month.

And not a moment too soon, after yesterday's 4-2 loss to the Mariners, and the other bad news yesterday, yet another medical examination for Mark Prior, this time on his shoulder.

Now. Is this good news? Hell no, it's not good news. It sucks. But is that cause to get all hysterical, accuse the Cubs of lying again, and claim that the sky is falling, neither Prior nor the Cubs will ever win another game again, and there won't be a chicken in every pot?

Sorry. But seriously. Yes, I know that the Cubs have had trouble keeping their pitchers healthy, and in the past, have had trouble being forthcoming about what's really going on. Here is what Jim Hendry said about the latest Prior news:

"It's unfortunate. But the first time he has ever complained of discomfort since the day we got here was today. Obviously, it'll be perceived any way people want to perceive it, but there's no advantage to holding back until March 14 and then discussing a problem that we knew about earlier.

"It was very disheartening, [but I hope] it's just a little snag and he's back on his program at the end of the week. I can't tell you any more than the truth, and today was the first day he told Mark [O'Neal and pitching coach Larry Rothschild] he had a little discomfort. He wasn't in agony or anything like that, but we'd be foolish not to have Lew look at it."

I don't see any reason not to believe this. Seriously, if you want to go all sports-talk-radio, rant and rave, accuse the Cubs of lying again, go right ahead. But frankly, I don't see how that would make you a happier baseball or Cub fan, or happier person. It doesn't for me. Am I happy about this? No. Am I going to sugarcoat it? No. But I'm going to wait till Prior gets back from the medical exam and there is more news before I criticize.

There is one thing that has been said about Mark Prior that I will repeat, because if true it is worrisome. For all his natural abilities and physical talent, Prior has developed a reputation for not being mentally or physically tough enough. Most pitchers have pain almost constantly and they work out ways to pitch through it. Frankly, Prior sometimes seems like a bit of a baby.

Maybe this is something. Maybe it's nothing. As Hendry said, perceive it any way you want. But the truth is that right now, we simply do not know anything for certain.

One thing I do know -- there are way too many diaries on this topic. Just a reminder -- let's not let this turn into the Cubs website message board, deluged with dozens of threads on identical topics. If you see a diary on a topic you want to post about -- well, don't. Just post your thoughts under that diary. Thanks.

I'm more concerned about Derrek Lee, who bruised his shoulder in the WBC and is also headed to see Dr. Yocum. Of this, Hendry compared the problem to the minor injury that held Lee out of a few games last July and said:

"Then he came back and played great like he did all year. I don't think it's anything more serious than last year. Hopefully, it won't even be a case where he has to miss that much. Hopefully, he can still help the USA win."
That might not be up to Lee. After the USA loss on Monday, Japan can wrap up a spot in the semifinals (Korea is already in) by beating the Koreans today and allowing six runs or less. If they do so, it doesn't matter what the USA does against Mexico tomorrow. If Korea beats Japan, the USA gets in with a win over Mexico -- and the way the US team has been playing, that's no sure thing.

Finally, I am off -- to Arizona. I'll be arriving tonight, and will be at tomorrow's game at Tempe, and Friday's at Scottsdale. Perhaps I'll run into some of you there. I'll be in Arizona for the rest of the spring season, hope to see many BCB'ers at various games.