This is the first offseason I remember when no one has kicked the tires on Mark Prior, hoping to see if he still has a bit of what he had ten years ago.
But Prior is still trying. And Doug Miller of MLB.com caught up with him recently to see what’s going down:
Nine years. It’s seemed like a long time, having not pitched in the big leagues since 2006 because of one injury or the next one or the bunch after that. It’s seemed like a short time, watching his kids grow up so fast, watching as he and his wife evolve as parents and adults now in their 30s, settling into much quieter days in a world where expectations have new meaning. It’s no longer the All-Star Game or the World Series or the Hall of Fame here on top of this hill. It’s waking up every morning, really early, and trying to do the right things. Trying to get back to the Majors.
It’s a long story chronicling Prior’s long journey back and what his life has been like since way, way back in 2003 when everyone thought he’d be the next big thing.
It’s hard to believe he’s still only 32. It’s harder to believe that he’ll ever pitch in the bigs again. But he’s trying.
Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.
Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list
Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.
Angels first baseman C.J. Cron hit a grand slam against the Mets on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep his spot on the major league roster as the club announced his demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday. Infielder Nolan Fantana has been promoted from Salt Lake.
Cron, 27, was hitting a disappointing .232/.281/.305 with one home run and RBI in 90 plate appearances. I guess you can say that wasn’t the kind of Cron job the Angels were expecting. Cron was an above-average hitter in each of his first three seasons, finishing with an OPS+, or adjusted OPS, of 111, 106, and 115 (100 is average).
While Cron is figuring things out in the minors, Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte, and Albert Pujols could each see some time at first base.