Cubs RHP Prior to start season on DL

Updated: March 23, 2004, 10:17 PM ET

MESA, Arizona - Chicago Cubs star righthander Mark Prior will start the season on the disabled list, the team announced Tuesday.

Prior, the runner-up in National League Cy Young Award voting last year, has been slowed by an inflamed right Achilles tendon and has not faced hitters this spring. He was expected to start the Cubs' third game of the season April 8.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said Prior is coming along fine and that the club didn't want to rush him.

"He's progressing how we would hope," Hendry told MLB.com. "We don't feel he's going to be ready to be at a high pitch limit for the first road trip, so obviously he'll be missing the first road trip."

Hendry didn't have a timetable for Prior's return but hoped it will be during the Cubs' first homestand from April 12-19.

While he will begin the season on the 15-day disabled list, Prior can return after seven days, as long as he doesn't pitch in front of paid attendance during that time. Prior said he will have another side session Wednesday, followed by a simulated game and some minor league contests.

"The 12th through the 19th would hopefully be the week," Prior told MLB.com. "Time will tell, and unfortunately there's not enough of that and I can't really control it either."

Prior, 23, went 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA and 245 strikeouts in 2003 - his first full major league season.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

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