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Back To The Drawing Board, Part Deux

The big news today, obviously, is covered in the game thread -- the continuing Mark Prior saga, in which he again looked not-nearly-ready for major league competition.

At, Carrie Muskat saw it differently, complete with far different pitch counts than I had. I don't understand this -- for most of the game, I was standing right next to her. I'm not sure which game she was watching, but her statement that "Friday, his fastballs were clocked from 85-90 mph, primarily 85-88 mph", is unconfirmable, because the player the Cubs had sitting behind the plate with the radar gun was hiding it from view by anyone except himself. This wasn't the case when he had the gun on Jason Marquis; Marquis consistently hit 90 -- and Prior's pitches were NOT hitting the catcher's glove with nearly the authority that Marquis' were.

Anyway, that's water under the bridge, for now at least; I doubt we'll see Prior in any more major league action this spring.

His statement afterwards, when asked what was next:

"Go home and get some lunch -- I don't know," Prior said.

... is dryly funny, but serious too, because I suspect no one really knows what's next.

What's next for the ballclub may not be known either, as Angel Guzman, after throwing a decent first three innings, got lit up in the fourth, finishing with a seven-hit, five-run appearance with no strikeouts. I suspect that'll put him and Wade Miller once again about even in the fifth-starter derby. Guzman did have good velocity, though, and I don't think the Cubs should give up on him yet.

The rest of the team completed a 7-6 loss to the White Sox, after coming back in the 9th inning with a three-run rally off Bobby Jenks, who looks fat and had nothing today -- but then Carmen Pignatiello gave the Sox a run on two hits in the bottom of the inning, ending the game. Jake Fox had yet another hit today; he's hitting .600 for the spring and talk is he may be tried in the outfield, since his bat is something the Cubs could use, while his catching skills leave something to be desired.

Michael Wuertz threw today -- and reasonably well, allowing two hits in a scoreless inning, striking out one. This is good news; at this point the Cubs, without Kerry Wood for an indeterminate length of time, can use extra arms in the bullpen. I've always liked Wuertz' arm; if he could harness his control he might even be a dark-horse backup candidate for closer if Ryan Dempster falters.

Cliff Floyd showed today why he shouldn't be counted on for regular play, badly misplaying a ball in the first inning that helped the White Sox to two runs. The man can hit -- although he went 0-for-2 today with a walk -- but his outfield play, never stellar, was horrid today. Clearly, he is still being bothered by the heel injury he's rehabbing.

It was 98 degrees in the Phoenix area today, record temperature territory (and the earliest it has ever been above 95 here), 93 in Tucson (which often is several more degrees cooler than Phoenix, due to its higher altitude), and temperatures at this level are supposed to continue through Sunday. I'll be back in Mesa for tomorrow's game against the Padres.

Rich Hill will face Greg Maddux. That ought to be interesting, and you can follow on both WGN radio and TV. Carlos Zambrano goes on Sunday with John Lackey pitching for the Angels.