Prior is poised to face the club that first offered to make him a professional when the Chicago Cubs host the Yankees in the finale of their three-game interleague series at Wrigley Field.
Before Prior graduated from San Diego High School in 1998, the Yankees selected him in the supplemental round of that year’s amateur draft.
The right-hander, who was 17-years-old at the time, declined the offer and then went on to star at Southern California.
“Obviously, nobody wants to turn down the Yankees out of high school,” Prior said, “but once I made the decision, it was time to move on.”
Prior has established himself as one of the best young pitchers in the majors, going 6-6 with a 3.32 ERA during his rookie season, striking out 147 and walking just 38 over 116 2-3 innings.
Off to a 6-2 start with a 2.76 ERA over his first 12 starts this year, Prior is relishing his first start against the Yankees.
“My adrenaline will be running because it’s Sunday night and it’s the Yankees,” Prior said. “I’ll be fired up and I’ll be pumped, but I’ll approach it the same way I do every other game.”
The Cubs delayed Roger Clemens’ date with history Saturday in a 5-2 win, sending New York to its third loss in five games.
After scattering three hits over 6 1-3 innings, Clemens left with a 1-0 lead and two runners on base. Eric Karros then deposited Juan Acevedo’s first pitch into the left field stands for a three-run homer.
The Cubs’ first baseman, who lay motionless for several minutes and was taken off the field in an ambulance, was in fair condition with a concussion Saturday.
“He’s moving and he’s conscious,” Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. “At least for now he’s out of the danger zone.”
STANDINGS: Yankees - 1st place, AL East. Cubs - 2nd place (tied), 1 GB, NL Central.
YANKEES PROBABLE STARTER: Andy Pettitte (5-5, 4.71 ERA). After opening the season 4-1 with a 3.96 ERA over his first six starts, Pettitte suffered the first four-game losing streak of his career. However, the left-hander has allowed a combined four runs over 14 2-3 innings since snapping the skid on May 27. Pettitte didn’t figure into the decision of New York’s 4-3 loss to Cincinnati on Tuesday, allowing three runs—two earned—and five hits over seven innings, striking out a season-high nine and walking one. He makes his first career start against the Cubs.
CUBS PROBABLE STARTER: Prior (6-2, 2.76 ERA). Opponents are hitting .224 and have an on-base percentage of .281 against Prior, who has struck out 88 and walked 22 over 84 2-3 innings this season. He didn’t figure into the decision of Chicago’s 3-2 win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday, allowing two runs and eight hits over eight innings.
INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Yankees - 2-3. Cubs - 3-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Yankees - Saturday’s loss was the first at Wrigley Field for the Yankees, who swept the 1932 and 1938 World Series against Chicago and won Friday’s opener. … SS Derek Jeter finished 0-for-3 Saturday, snapping his 13-game hitting streak. … 1B Jason Giambi has hit five homers over his last nine games. Cubs - With two hits Saturday, SS Sosa needs one hit to reach 2,000 for his career. … GM Hendry said 1B Choi would probably land on the DL and the Cubs would call up a replacement from the minors. … The Cubs are 45-45 in interleague play since its inception in 1997 but are 28-21 at Wrigley Field.
ROAD/Cubs RECORDS: Yankees - 22-11 on the road; Cubs - 17-15 at home.
INJURIES: Yankees - 1B Nick Johnson (hand), 15-day DL; OF Bernie Williams (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Steve Karsay (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Jon Lieber (elbow), 60-day DL. Cubs - 1B Choi (concussion), day-to-day; LHP Will Ohman (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Dave Veres (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Scott Chiasson (elbow), 60-day DL.