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Prior is sidelined for entire season

Cubs pitcher has arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder

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Mark Prior

Mark Prior

Mark Prior is out for the rest of the season. His once promising future with the Chicago Cubs is unclear, although surgery on his right shoulder is not considered career-threatening.

Dr. James Andrews operated on the 26-year-old right-hander Tuesday in an arthroscopic procedure in which he also worked on Prior's rotator cuff.

"Dr. Andrews feels comfortable that he will still have a career. This is certainly not career-ending," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said Wednesday. "He felt optimistic that he would be able to pitch next year ... At his age, he should not have a problem responding and coming back after a strenuous rehab."

Prior has been beset by injuries since his first full season in the majors in 2003. He went on the disabled list three times last year and started this season at Triple-A Iowa.

"It's best for him. He had some physical problems and now they've been taken care of. I don't think he was going to be able to pitch this way," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said after Wednesday's 9-3 win over Milwaukee.

"In a way, I'm happy for the guy because he'll get well now and get strong and he can resume his career without the problems that he had. A lot of pitchers have this type of surgery and bounce back and have very productive careers. So let's hope that's the same in Mark's case."

The injury was the latest problem for the struggling team. The Cubs, who have not reached the World Series since 1945, made many major changes in the offseason. After beating the Brewers they were 8-13 and last in the NL Central.

MARTINEZ FEELS LIKE OLD SELF: Pedro Martinez is encouraged by his recovery from rotator cuff surgery and confident that he'll return to the New York Mets for the second half of this season.

"I am super excited with how things are progressing. I feel as good as I did in 1996 and 1997," the 35-year-old ace told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

That would be good news for the Mets: In 1997 with Montreal, he led the league with a 1.90 ERA, 305 strikeouts and 13 complete games and won the NL Cy Young Award.

Martinez, who was visiting his native Dominican Republic for a charity event, expects to return to the Mets' training facility in Florida on Sunday.

"I haven't felt any pain during rehabilitation and I think that in a month I'll be throwing from the mound and then do a short rehabilitation in the minors," he said.

PIAZZA COULD CATCH: The Oakland Athletics activated first baseman Dan Johnson from the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday and optioned catcher Adam Melhuse to Triple-A Sacramento.

The move leaves designated hitter Mike Piazza as the backup to starting catcher Jason Kendall. Piazza has played 1,629 games at catcher in his career, but manager Bob Geren said in spring training that he hoped not to use him there.

That might change with Milton Bradley and Mark Kotsay on the disabled list, and Nick Swisher and Bobby Kielty nursing injuries. The short-handed A's decided they needed Johnson's bat in the lineup and he started at first base Wednesday against the Seattle Mariners.

ALSO: Pirates second baseman Freddy Sanchez was taken out of Wednesday night's lineup against Houston because of irritation in his right eye ... Milwaukee Brewers ace Ben Sheets left Wednesday's game against the Chicago Cubs after three innings because of a strained right groin.