Prior might make debut by mid-April

MESA, Ariz. -- Mark Prior will start the season on the
15-day disabled list because of inflammation in his right Achilles tendon.

The Chicago Cubs star has been throwing off the mound in spring
training, but has not pitched in a Cactus League game because of
the injury. He was originally scheduled to start the team's third
game of the season on April 8 at Cincinnati.

If Prior doesn't pitch in any major league exhibition games, he
would be eligible to come off the disabled list on April 10. The
Cubs hope to have him for their first homestand April 12-19.

"We're happy with the way he's coming along," general manager
Jim Hendry said Tuesday. "He's progressing the way we had hoped.
We're going to always be cautious."

Prior, 23, 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.

The hard-throwing right-hander first felt soreness in his
Achilles last September as he helped pitch Chicago to the NL
Central title, going 10-1 over the final two months of the season.

Barry Bonds hit a three-run homer in the first inning Tuesday,
but the Cubs still breezed past the San Francisco Giants 12-4.

Sammy Sosa went 2-for-3, Derrek Lee was 2-for-2 and Alex Gonzalez was 2-for-3 as the Cubs outhit the Giants 18-5.

Carlos Zambrano was solid after the first inning, improving to
3-0 this spring. He worked six innings, giving up three runs and
three hits. He didn't walk a batter and struck out two.

Giants starter Kirk Rueter allowed six runs and eight hits in
three innings.