ORLANDO - Though he hasn't pitched in the majors since all the way back in 2006, former Cubs ace Mark Prior has long been attempting to return. Until now. He has officially retired from baseball, per multiple reports (Chicago Tribune).
Prior appeared in seven games for the Louisville Bats (Reds' Triple-A affiliate). He's still only 33 years old, so a comeback wasn't completely out the question, it's just that he has been unable to stay healthy for long stretches for most of the past decade.
Prior's big-league career officially ends with a 42-29 record, 3.51 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 757 strikeouts in 657 innings. His 2003 season, though, is a sad reminder of what could have been if not for health issues.
In 2003, Prior went 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA (179 OPS+), 1.10 WHIP and 245 strikeouts in 211 innings pitched. He finished third in NL Cy Young voting -- and I'd argue rather vehemently he should have won it -- as the best pitcher on the NL Central champion Cubs. Then, in the playoffs, he was 2-1 with a 2.31 ERA in three starts. His first postseason start was a complete-game gem in which he outdueled surefire Hall of Famer Greg Maddux in Game 3 of the NLDS.
Since that season, though, Prior's career is mostly a disappointing story, unbelievably laden with injuries. There were wear-and-tear type arm injuries and freak injuries like when he took a line drive off his pitching elbow.
Still, now that's he's officially retiring, let us look back at the good and remember just how scary good Prior was in 2003.