Thursday, June 08, 2006

Cubs Mark Prior, Awaiting Zephyrs, Hurt by Towel?

Of course, the simple answer is that injured Cubs pitcher Mark Prior, as he awaits a re-hab start in New Orleans, has been held back first by an elbow injury, then a respiratory ailment and finally his current nemisis, the shoulder strain. But pitching guru Dick Mills, author of The Science and Art of Baseball Pitching, suggests that the so-called "towel drill" Prior has been using since February is not only hampering his recovery, but ruining his mechanics. The towel drill, introduced by former Texas Rangers pitcher and freelance coach Tom House, requires the pitcher to throw a small knotted towel instead of a ball. The towel is held between pitching fingers and snaps on release when thrown to the plate, emphasizing wrist action to increase torque while reducing stress at the shoulder and elbow. Though Prior was reported as throwing 95-mph during his most recent five-inning outing at Peoria, the Cubs are expected to take their time bringing him back. The team has announced that Prior will appear with the AAA Iowa Cubs vs. the New Orleans Zephyrs on June 13, meaning he will miss the parent club's meeting with Houston on that date. If all goes well, it may be Prior's final tune-up before returning to Chicago.