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Former National League All-Star Mark Prior joins Orange County Flyers

August 4, 2010 | 12:44 pm

Prior_300 Former USC standout and Chicago Cubs All-Star pitcher Mark Prior has signed with the Orange County Flyers, the independent Golden League team announced Wednesday.

Prior spent all five of his major league seasons with the Cubs, going 42-29 with a 3.51 career earned-run average in 106 starts. He had his best year in 2003, going 18-6 with a career-best 2.43 ERA in 30 starts, earning a spot on the National League All-Star team and finishing third in NL Cy Young Award voting. He also pitched three complete games that year and was the NL pitcher of the month twice.

He has been plagued by shoulder injuries and has not played in the majors since 2006.

"I want to get back out there and get some competitive games under my belt," said Prior, who was a first-team All-American pitcher for USC in 2001. "It's been a few years with a couple shoulder surgeries. I finally feel that I'm at a point now that I can go out, compete and get guys out, so that's the first step."

Prior, a San Diego native, is expected to come out of the bullpen and serve as a set-up man for Flyers closer Andre Simpson. On Tuesday against Victoria, he worked the sixth inning, retiring the side in order with one strikeout.

"He's going to bring a lot to the table, his pitching and his professionalism," Flyers Manager Paul Abbott said of Prior. "It's not fun to go through what he went through with his shoulder and surgeries, but he's going to test it out and test it out for us, so I'm excited."

Prior worked out for Abbott over the weekend and made his first appearance with the Flyers on Tuesday.

"When Mark was working toward pitching competitively again, because of the timing of being late in the year, this probably presented the best situation," said Prior's agent, John Boggs, whose son Steve is the Flyers' center fielder and leadoff hitter.

"Mark is very comfortable with the situation, so hopefully he's going to produce, and this will be the next phase of his comeback."

-- Chuck Schilken

Photo: Mark Prior with the Cubs in 2006. Credit: John Gress / Reuters