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Saturday, August 12, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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NL Wire Notes: Prior's health becomes issue again for Cubs

Mark Prior's lost season grew dimmer Friday.

Instead of flying Thursday with the Cubs from Milwaukee to Denver, the club sent the right-hander to Chicago to have team physician Stephen Gryzlo examine his shoulder.

Whether Prior returns to the rotation this year is anyone's guess.

"Right now we're waiting to see the results [of the exam]," manager Dusty Baker said. "There's nothing to report."

Some red flags were raised during Prior's three-inning stint Thursday in an 8-6 loss to the Brewers, so the Cubs chose to have him examined before deciding whether he will make his next scheduled start Tuesday in Houston.

"We'll see what comes of it," pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. "There were some pitches he threw [Thursday] that I didn't like the way he threw. We have to make sure of what's going on, where he is and go from there."

Rothschild said a drop in Prior's velocity in the third inning triggered concern he was having problems.

"He was underneath a lot of pitches all day, and that's not a real good sign, ever," Rothschild said. "Up until this start, he had been up on top of pitches and the velocity was good. [Thursday] he started out OK but was still underneath."

Rothschild said Prior didn't complain of any discomfort or soreness.

"He's felt good," he said. "The [side sessions] he has done, the preparation before the games ... he has said he has felt good all along. He threw the ball better, but he wasn't throwing the way he's fully capable of."

Prior already has been on the disabled list twice this season with a shoulder strain that cost him the first 2 months of the season and an oblique strain that sidelined him for two weeks in July.

Asked about the possibility of arm problems after Thursday's game, Prior sidestepped the issue. He then got testy when asked whether he may be forced to shut down for the rest of the season, a distinct possibility if he makes a return trip to the DL.

Arizona: RHP Brandon Webb will make his first start since July 31 tonight against the Florida Marlins. Webb missed a start with shoulder tendinitis. He is 12-4 and leads the National League with a 2.74 earned-run average.

Milwaukee: RHP Ben Sheets is scheduled to start today. His status for the start was confirmed Friday when he had a light throwing session with no difficulty. Sheets left last Saturday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals with a strained chest muscle. ... Manager Ned Yost benched veteran OF Geoff Jenkins and said he would look at prospects Gabe Gross and Corey Hart the rest of the season.

New York: CF Carlos Beltran was back in the lineup after sitting out a game to rest his sore right knee. Beltran, who has tendinitis, said he doesn't expect to need surgery after the season.

St. Louis: 3B Scott Rolen likely will sit out today and Sunday because of back spasms. He missed Friday's game, and manager Tony La Russa doesn't expect him to start again until Tuesday.

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Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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