Will Carroll’s report about possible shoulder problems for Mark Prior raised quite a hubbub around the Chicago area, perhaps approaching the level of a ruckus at one point. Will was kind enough to answer every question I could think of on the topic.
MLBTradeRumors: Why isn’t Prior on the same course as the Cubs’ healthy pitchers? Can a December illness really set a pitcher back like this?
Will Carroll: Good question and one I don’t have a good answer to. Prior almost certainly was sick and almost certainly had some effect. We don’t know how serious — ER sick is a pretty broad range — but given that Mark is a young, healthy, well-conditioned athlete, you’d think he could bounce back. Most pitchers don’t do much in December anyway; there was an article, I think by Jayson Stark, that talked about a pitcher picking up the ball in early January.
Every pitcher’s different. Back in 2003 when we were working on Saving The Pitcher, Mark was throwing in December, but if I recall correctly, Christian Ruzich (of Cub Reporter and the photographer for that session) said it was a long toss session.
MLBTR: Has there been any interaction between you and Prior/Baker/Cubs front office since the big media blowup about his shoulder? If so, how’d it go?
WC: Yes, but it was a private conversation. Some were dismissive, some were angry, some just nodded and went on with life.
MLBTR: Do you think the "weak and sick" look could be related to Prior’s December illness? [whoops, I asked this twice.]
WC: Again, it’s possible, but you’d think a young, healthy, well-conditioned athlete like Prior would bounce back more quickly. I’m not a stalker so I don’t know exactly what Mark was doing, but we do know a couple things — 1) there were no reports of anything this winter. That’s normal, we don’t hear a lot about lots of players. Prior’s offseason was — well, I don’t know. He could have sat in his house, gone to Aruba, or spent the winter throwing in his back yard. The Cubs know, but we don’t.
All that we *know* changed is that he didn’t work with Tom House and I didn’t even know that until he mentioned it during an interview Friday. 2) I know, for a fact, that a major Chicago writer agrees with me. In fact, he was the source for "sick and weak."
MLBTR: The closest thing to a thumbs up from Prior that I’ve found in the media is him telling George Ofman his shoulder is OK and without discomfort. Has Prior blatantly said to anyone that his shoulder and elbow are completely 100% healthy?
WC: Not that I’m aware of.
MLBTR: Based on this incident, the Achilles thing last year [whoops, two years ago], and tons of missed timetables would you agree that the Cubs have been less than forthright about pitching injuries? Is this simply to withold injury info from other baseball teams a la Oakland, or do the Cubs have some other motivation?
WC: That’s correct, but this isn’t something we can blame on the Cubs solely. You mentioned the A’s, but it’s every team. There’s a grand total of one team that’s always been open and honest about every single request I’ve made. I think that’s mostly because that team isn’t very good. The Cubs have done a very poor job of managing information, odd since they’re owned by the very media company that provides a great deal of their coverage.
MLBTR: Which members of the Chicago media contacted you about your report? I know you’ve spoken on the Score and with Teddy Greenstein; anyone else?
WC: Easier to say who didn’t — no one from the Sun-Times or ESPN 1000 contacted me.
MLBTR: Has the majority of the Chicago media treated you well other than Paul Sullivan’s shot? You mentioned that you don’t think there’s any "ink vs. Internet" divide.
WC: Yes. You know, it’s funny — I only spoke to Teddy Greenstein because a few years ago, the first time I was in the Cubs clubhouse, Teddy was nice to me. He pointed out who was a good interview, introduced me to a couple people, knew where the bathroom was. He misquoted me, but that’s more my choice of wording than anything else. Heck, here’s the email:
From Will to Teddy Greenstein, 2/22: "Teddy — I went back through my emails and realized why the Achilles stuff isn’t on the site until after it was publicly announced: I didn’t run it. The source, at that time, was unknown to me. Sorry for the confusion; blame my failing memory."
As you can see there, I said I didn’t run the information from the source because I didn’t know how accurate the information was until proven true, not that I didn’t know the source. It existed, it was accurate, and in fact, I’d think my reluctance to use it without proof of accuracy speaks pretty well to my standards.
Ink vs pixels? As false as stats vs scouts. I read all the reports – Kiley, Rogers, Greenstein, Miles, Muskat, DeLuca, the guy from Gary – on the internet.
MLBTR: Has your source given you anything new on Prior since the injury report? Has that source scooped anything besides Prior’s Achilles issue from last year? Can you give us anything about your source’s relation to Prior and/or the Cubs? (I had to try).
WC: No. Yes (and it was two years ago). Nice try.
MLBTR: There have been whispers of a need for TJ surgery in Prior’s past, which were squelched. Would you take the elbow inflammation and reduced control in recent years as warning signs for a future TJ?
WC: Those rumors were pretty spurious, if I remember correctly. They came out of New York — Larry Rocca — and were shot down. The Cubs reacted to that by laughing it off. Reduced control? I don’t see that in the stat line and given Mark’s traumatic elbow injury last year, I think we could forgive him a little wildness in the second half.