On Monday, former All-Star pitcher Mark Prior announced that he has officially retired from baseball after an injury-riddled career that included numerous comeback attempts.
When he broke into the big leagues with the Chicago Cubs in 2002, Prior instantly became a star and looked like he was destined for greatness. During his first full season in 2003, Prior posted an 18-6 record with a 2.43 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 245 strikeouts in 211.1 innings. His WAR of 7.2 was the best in the National League that year.
At just 22 years old Prior was an All-Star in 2003, he also finished third in Cy Young Award voting and was ninth in MVP votes.
Unfortunately, Prior was never the same after that incredible 2003 season as he dealt with a litany of injuries. He suffered Achilles’ tendon problems, then numerous shoulder issues that ultimately forced him out of the big leagues. At the time of his retirement, he hadn’t appeared in the majors since 2006.
Prior attempted another comeback in 2013 with the Cincinnati Reds’ Triple-A affiliate, but had to be shut down as a result of continuing shoulder problems. He made seven relief appearances for the Louisville Bats in 2013, and posted a 4.66 ERA in 9.2 innings.
He had previously attempted comebacks with the San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
In five big league seasons, the 33-year-old Prior posted a 3.51 ERA with 757 strikeouts over 657 innings, with a record of 42-29.
Prior’s story is incredibly sad because of how much talent he had. He clearly had the stuff to be one of the best pitchers of his generation, but injuries completely derailed what could have been an incredible career.