Prior discusses bullpen talks
It may be premature to speculate, but if the Cubs make it to the playoffs and go to a four-man rotation, who gets demoted to the bullpen?
Fans and sports talk hosts have been giving it a lot of thought in recent weeks and feel that 24-year-old star pitcher Mark Prior should get the demotion.
This is the same guy who won a team-high 18 games for the North Siders last year en route to a playoff run. He was also 2-1 with a 2.31 ERA in the playoffs.
But through his first 18 starts, he had a 5-4 record and a 4.87 ERA -- highest among the starters -- after missing two months because of Achilles tendon and elbow troubles.
Prior thinks it's too soon to think about it -- the Cubs are in a battle for the wild card spot -- but said he would do whatever manager Dusty Baker and the coaches want.
"Think what you want, I honestly don't care," Prior said. "If they want me to start, I'm going to start and do anything I can to win a ballgame that way. If they want me to long relieve, I'll do that. If they want me to close, whatever, I'll do that. When it comes playoff time, the team goal of winning the World Series ring is the most important. If a player hits 40 homers and has to lay down a sac bunt, that's what you have to do.
"If I start a game and come in a few days later in relief, that's what I'm going to do. Everybody on this team has that feeling. Whatever is asked of them, they are going to do it at this point in the season. I don't know how it's going to be structured. We have 14 or 15 more games left and a lot of things have to be determined. A lot of things can happen. We'll cross that bridge when it comes."
The way RHP Matt Clement has been pitching (he failed to pitch five innings three times in a four-start stretch), he could end up the odd man out. He was skipped the last two turns in the rotation.
"Whatever they tell me to do, I'll do," Clement said. "It's not about me."