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CHAPMAN CUBS 09.jpg

Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

For all the hype, all the promise and all the potential of Mark Prior, his career in baseball may be officially over.

Yes, for those of you wondering at that statement, his career was only mostly over after his last injury-filled flameout with his hometown San Diego Padres in 2009. But according to a report in the Trib, he was injured yet again in his latest quest, a desperate grasp at the glory days that ended far too soon.

"Mark has been through so many timelines, at this point I'm almost allergic to the word," Prior's agent John Boggs said in January. "But he's out there. He's getting himself ready. And when he's ready, I'm sure you'll hear a lot about him. Then we'll invite teams to come watch him throw. And hopefully, he'll be the next Ben Sheets."

Prior, it seems, was nailed with a comebacker in the pitching shoulder in what may be the final divine message that it's time for him to take his Cubs signing bonus - a then-record $10.5 million in 2001 - and hang 'em up in style. For that matter, the $15,00 a month the Padres were paying him to rehab without ever pitching an inning for them would make for a decent start at retirement.

The injury was not reported as serious, but he's apparently been shut down for three weeks as a precautionary measure.

As baseball fans watch Joe Mauer and Mark Teixeira, the two names most notable as Cubs draft considerations in 2001, win MVP awards with the Minnesota Twins and help slug the Yankees back to championships in New York, it's hard not to think about how Prior is synonymous with broken hopes in Cubdom.

It's a story of a career made even more sad when you consider Prior hasn't turned 30 yet and has already had multiple shoulder reconstructions.

"If I can get back to 80 percent or 90 percent of what I used to be, then that's still pretty good. I look back to those three, four years in the big leagues, and I pitched pretty well and did the things I had to do to help us win games," Prior said during Spring Training with the Padres in 2009. "I don't know if those memories haunt me, but they motivate me."

The fact that he still feels the competitive impulse to try to drag his battered arm through the violent process of major league pitching again does say something about his fire, but maybe it's better for him at this point to just put the tattered dream on ice for good.

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John Ely uncorks a first inning pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers at Dodger Staium on Thursday night. (AP)


John Ely is a genuine pride of the South Side - Harvey, to be exact. So what is he doing helping out the Cubs?


Ely, making just his second big league start - and first home start at that - was a human wrecking ball for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the North Siders' nemesis Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday night.


With no less than Vin Scully singing his praises, Ely spun a gem at Chavez Ravine and was in position to earn the win before a Jonathan Broxton meltdown in the ninth. At one point, Ely sat down 16 in a row.


Allowing just one run in six and two-thirds innings Ely, who now has 72 games under his belt in three professional seasons, only allowed two runners as far as second base and took particular interest in embarrassing Jim Edmonds, saddled with three of Ely's seven strikeouts off a variety of high-80s fastballs and and assortment of on-the-corners breaking stuff.


It's a vast improvement on his shaky debut against the Mets, where he lasted six innings, but was touched up for 5 runs.


Ely, called up to sub for a disabled Vicente Padilla, may not get another chance on the Dodger Stadium bump with Jeff Weaver expected back from injury Friday. But with the command he showed Thursday night, he'll also likely find his way back pitching with the big club in the near future.


One thing is for sure: Ely's domination was likely just a little more painful for Sox fans. He was drafted and signed as a Sox in 2007 out of Homewood-Flossmoor, but ended his South Side career as the player to be named that completed the Juan Pierre deal in December 2009.



APTOPIX Cardinals Phi_Newm.jpgA law enforcement officer chases down a fan that ran onto the field before the eighth inning in Philadelphia on Monday. Matt Slocum-AP


Philadelphia Phillies fans, notoriously, will boo anyone and anything. But one fan got a hearty cheer when the Phils took on the St. Louis Cardinals. All he had to do to earn a little love? Get the Taser.


An unnamed 17-year-old decided to jump the fence and pull a sprint across Citizens Bank Field, causing the usual Keystone Cop scene with security and police chasing him down. Until, that is, one of Philadelphia's finest decide he'd had enough running and just tazed the kid.


As the underage fan went down in a heap, several Phillies placed gloves over their faces and appeared to be stifling laughter at the wild scene.


Police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore told The Philadelphia Inquirer police internal affairs will open an investigation to determine if the firing "was proper use of the equipment."


"This is the first time that a Taser gun has been used by Philadelphia police to apprehend a field jumper," Phillies spokeswoman Bonnie Clark said in a statement to the Enquirer. "The Police Department is investigating this matter and The Phillies are discussing with them whether in future situations this is an appropriate use of force under these circumstances. That decision will be made public."

The fan will be charged with criminal trespass and related offenses, the team said. The Phillies did not release his name because he is a juvenile.


Adding insult to injury, the Phillies lost to the Cardinals, 6-3.


At least they never juiced Santa.





UPDATE:


Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey examined video of the arrest and felt the officer acted within department guidelines, which allow officers to use Tasers to arrest fleeing suspects, said police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore. The department's internal affairs unit is investigating, Vanore said.


The department is now reviewing whether its officers should be on the field wrangling runaway fans who aren't threatening anyone, Vanore said.


"Should we be on the field at all? I think that's what's being looked at," Vanore said. "I'm not sure we should be chasing people around the field."


The police officer chased him for about 30 seconds before the stun gun probe hit the teenager, who stumbled forward, slid face-first on the grass and stayed down for about 30 seconds before standing up and walking off the field.

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Milton Bradley works on his birding skills. (Photo courtesy SeattleDawg18)

Milton Bradley, maybe you vaguely remember him bringing his unique skill set to the North Side Nine last season, is playing his part to perfection once again.

Just a few weeks ago, the explosive former Cubs outfielder equated himself with the likes of Kanye West and Ron Artest as baseball's bad boy:

"If I was a musician, I'd be Kanye West. If I was in the NBA, I'd be Ron Artest. In baseball, they've got Milton Bradley. I'm that guy. You need people like me, so you can point your finger and go, 'There goes the bad guy."

OK, Milton. What finger were you talking about pointing again?

Bradley, now blessing the Seattle Mariners with his talents, didn't waste any time getting into the controversy column this season. During a game Friday night at the Texas Rangers, also a former home for the hot-headed one, Bradley was caught on camera answering fans' taunts with a bird flip. The Dallas Morning News' Rangers Blog reports on the incident, which apparently was scrubbed from the tape-delayed broadcast.

Milton was unavailable for comment after the game and Mariner's manager Don Wakamatsu could only muster what will be the first of many "no comments" this season.

So, if you're keeping track, Bradley now has one finger flipped on the season, matching his hits through Friday night. Serendipitous.

Cubs fans, you're gonna miss the big lug this season, aren't you?

Mark Buerhle may not have been perfect in his record eighth Opening Day start for the White Sox, but this defensive gem sure was.

In the fifth, the left-hander took a bullet from Lou Marson's bat off his leg, chased it down in foul territory along the first-base line and flipped it without looking through his legs with his glove hand to Konerko to get the out.

Even with 161 regular-season games left, it could very well end up being the Sox' defensive play of the year.

Buehrle was checked out by manager Ozzie Guillen and the training staff, which gave fans the opportunity to give him a well-deserved standing ovation.

Buehrle finished after 7 innings with a 5-0 lead over the Indians, giving up just three hits and striking out three.

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