More on Prior

Prior likely to start 2006 on the DL

Right-hander Mark Prior will be shut down until at least next weekend due to a strain in his right shoulder.

The Cubs were hoping Prior would pitch this week in a Cactus League game in order to get ready for an April 5 matchup against Cincinnati, but now he is certain to open the season on the disabled list for the third year in a row.

The Cubs say the strain is not serious, and MRIs have shown no surgery is necessary. But he will take it easy this week, and doctors will consult with him over the weekend to determine the next plan of action.

Prior's arm troubles were the subject of Internet and broadcast speculation since the early portion of spring training, but Prior insists he had no arm problems until he felt soreness after a throwing session March 12 and pain during a March 14 session.

"I've been feeling great from the day I showed up to spring training," Prior said. "I can't say that enough. I'm aware of what's out there. I have never physically sat down and talked to anybody to incite the gossip that 'he and the Cubs have been covering up the bum shoulder for weeks.'"

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