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MRI: Prior has inflammation in heel, elbow

MESA, Ariz. -- Mark Prior probably won't pitch until May
because of inflammation in his right Achilles tendon and a stiff
elbow.

"I'd say May 1 or the first week of May is optimistic," Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said Tuesday. "He's a guy that I don't think needs more than three or four weeks to get ready."

The Cubs were hoping for a good outing Tuesday from Sergio Mitre, who will replace Prior in the starting rotation. But Chicago gave up 19 hits in a 16-4 loss to the Mariners. Mitre allowed eight hits and five runs in four innings.

Prior returned to spring training Tuesday after spending Monday
in Chicago, where he had an MRI and bone scan on his Achilles
tendon and right arm.

The 23-year-old right-hander has not pitched in a spring
training game because of the Achilles injury and was already
expected to start the season on the disabled list. Prior has been throwing off a mound this spring.

Both the Cubs and Prior said the MRI and bone scan showed
nothing but inflammation in the heel and elbow.

"It was completely away from the ligament and was more down on
the bone," Prior said, referring to the stiffness in his elbow.

Prior was 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA and 245 strikeouts in his first
full big league season last year, finishing third in voting for the
NL Cy Young Award.

His absence is a big loss for a staff that also includes Kerry
Wood and Greg Maddux.

The Cubs were hoping for a good outing Tuesday from Sergio
Mitre, who will replace Prior in the starting rotation.

But Chicago gave up 19 hits in a 16-4 loss to the Seattle
Mariners. Mitre allowed eight hits and five runs in four innings.

Moises Alou hit an inside-the-park homer for the Cubs. The ball
hit off a curve in the wall in left-center and rolled toward
center, giving Alou time to circle the bases and slide home well
ahead of the relay. It was Alou's first homer of the spring.

Aramis Ramirez followed with a conventional home run, a high
drive just inside the left-field foul pole.

Quinton McCracken hit a two-run homer for Seattle, and Hiram Bocachica had a three-run shot. Raul Ibanez went 3-for-3 with two
runs scored and two RBI.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.