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Ending attempt at comeback, Prior retires

Former 18-game winner for Cubs last played in Major Leagues in 2006

After a series of injuries and several comeback attempts, it appears Mark Prior is ready to call it a career.

The right-hander, now 33, was in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Monday for the Winter Meetings, where he told reporters he was retiring. Prior also indicated he could take a job in the Padres' front office, although the club has not confirmed it.

The San Diego native signed a Minor League deal with the Reds during Spring Training last season and made seven relief appearances at Triple-A Louisville, posting a 4.66 ERA over 9 2/3 innings. But he sustained a right shoulder strain and went on the disabled list in late April. He did not appear in another game and was released in June.

The Cubs made Prior the second overall pick of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft out of USC, and he made his Major League debut the next May, at age 21. After going 6-6 with a 3.32 ERA in 19 starts as a rookie, Prior enjoyed a breakout '03 season. In 30 starts, he went 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA and 245 strikeouts in 211 1/3 innings. An All-Star selection, he finished third in the National League Cy Young Award voting, then posted a 2.31 ERA in three postseason outings.

The injuries then started to pile up. Prior made 21 starts in 2004, 27 in '05 and just nine in '06. His last big league appearance came Aug. 10, 2006, and he then had reconstructive shoulder surgery.

Prior tried to make it back to the Majors, pitching in the Minors for the Rangers, Yankees, Red Sox and Reds.

He finishes his career with a 42-29 record and a 3.51 ERA in 106 Major League starts. He also struck out 10.4 batters per nine innings, the second-highest rate in history for a starting pitcher with at least 500 career innings, trailing only Randy Johnson.

Andrew Simon is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @HitTheCutoff.

Mark Prior