Mark Prior reported to Single-A after signing a minor-league contract with the Yankees, but after allowing two runs in three innings there they promoted him to Triple-A. And now–you may want to sit down for this–he’s on the disabled list.
The good news is that is has nothing to do with his arm, as the DL stint is for a groin injury that the Yankees believe isn’t particularly serious. Still, the fact that he lasted just four total appearances before needing a break is an all too predictable setback for Prior’s efforts to resurrect his career as a reliever.
Reports of Prior’s velocity have been pretty encouraging dating back to spring training, so if he can get off the disabled list and stay healthy for a while he definitely has a chance to enter into the bullpen mix for the Yankees in the second half.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.