Thanks to my cubs insider source and cubs.com confirming this-
CHICAGO -- The Cubs began their winter Cubs Caravan tour on Wednesday with good news regarding Mark Prior, who is throwing off the mound and making good progress.
"Mark is up on the hill, throwing some bullpens and doing well," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said Wednesday before boarding a bus with other players and staff for a trip to downstate Illinois.
"The reports have been encouraging, and we're all keeping our fingers crossed," Hendry said. "We'd love to show up and have the old Mark back and feel like we have a great, new player come in that we weren't expecting. We wanted to cover ourselves in depth if Mark was behind, but if he's on schedule, we'll feel like we got a bonus."
Prior, 26, is coming off an injury-shortened season in which he was 1-6 with a 7.21 ERA in nine starts. A shoulder injury hampered him, and he was forced to devote this offseason to rehab. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild said he talked to the right-hander every week for progress reports.
"He's going through a pretty strenuous program and has been throwing for quite a while," Rothschild said.
But the Cubs won't know for sure if Prior is the 2003 version, when he was 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA in 30 starts, until Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 14.
Rothschild also has been in contact with right-hander Wade Miller, who made five September starts for the Cubs in his comeback from arthroscopic shoulder surgery in 2005.
"He's had a good winter and worked hard," Rothschild said of Miller, 30, who won 16, 15, and 14 games in consecutive seasons with Houston from 2001-2003. "[Miller] started throwing a few weeks ago and has had no problems at all. All three of the guys rehabbing have really worked hard."
The third is Kerry Wood, who was diagnosed with a partial tear in his right rotator cuff and opted to rehab rather than undergo surgery. Rothschild said he's encouraged by Wood's progress, too.
" This time of year, guys should be doing well," Rothschild said. "As we get closer to Spring Training, we keep getting positive feedback."
This is great news for cubs fan, its Jan 17th and Prior is throwing off the mound. Now if he can just stay heathy he would help the cubs tremedously and hope he bounces back to his 03 status.. Along with Miller is feeling great and has had no set backs and or problems, if you can get him to win 14 games that would be huge! To add to the excitment having Larry be encouraged with Kerry's progress and that my friends would make our Pen so strong. Im so pumped to get Spring Training started. Go cubs!
Also in that article it says Hendry wants to tinker with the outfield.. Does this mean a trade(Jones) or adding another player(erstad or Floyd)? He says that Pie is playing good defense and he will fit in the program wether its opening day or on down the road.. They also say Pie will have to fight for CF, he wont be handed the job.. This is also good news, I love players battling hard in SP for a spot, should be great to keep track of! Only if it can come sooner!