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," 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."
Prior returned to spring training 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.
He's also felt "stiffness" in his pitching elbow. 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.
ATHLETICS: Mark Ellis got a surprise when he woke up Tuesday and read that he would be out for the season.
"It's just premature," the second baseman said. "I don't know where it came from. It's not right yet. It might be in the end, but not now."
Ellis dislocated his right shoulder in a collision with Oakland rookie shortstop Bobby Crosby last Thursday against the Chicago Cubs and is out for at least six to eight weeks. Tests Friday were inconclusive.
REDS: Ken Griffey Jr. strained his right calf while running out a grounder Monday night, but it appears to be a minor setback.
Griffey's leg was much better Tuesday, when he missed a game against Minnesota. The Reds planned to give him a couple of days to recover fully.
GIANTS: Closer Robb Nen and reliever Scott Eyre were placed on the 15-day disabled list.
The Giants also signed infielder Deivi Cruz, right-hander Dave Veres and right-hander Mike Crudale to minor league contracts.
Nen, a three-time All-Star, is trying to recover from three shoulder operations that caused him to miss the entire 2003 season.
MARLINS: Florida signed Tanyon Sturtze to a minor league contract, hoping the big right-hander might help their bullpen.
Sturtze asked for and received his release from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday.
after giving up 18 hits and posting a 9.00 ERA in 11 innings this spring.
INDIANS: Jason Stanford was named No. 5 starter, beating out Chad Durbin for the final spot and rounding out a rotation that will include three left-handers.
"It was a dream just to get the opportunity, and now it's the real deal," Stanford said.
ORIOLES: Rodrigo Lopez will begin the season in Baltimore's bullpen after being replaced in the starting rotation by rookie Erik Bedard, who earned the final spot with an outstanding spring.
Bedard is 2-0 with a 2.04 ERA in five exhibition games.
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