Prior's status uncertain after MRI

Prior's status uncertain after MRI

CHICAGO -- There seemed to be more than just a few sighs of relief around the Cubs clubhouse upon hearing that X-rays taken on Mark Prior's elbow, after being struck by a line drive during Friday's game, came back negative.

Those sighs might have been a bit premature.

In the top of the fourth inning of the Cubs' game against the Rockies, Prior was struck by a Brad Hawpe shot on the elbow of his right, throwing arm.

Prior went directly to Northwestern Memorial hospital after leaving the game to have X-rays taken. While Cubs trainer Mark O'Neal said the initial results showed no fracture, a followup MRI was taken due to the moderate amount of swelling around the elbow area. ESPN.com reported Friday night that the MRI revealed a "slight" fracture.

How long this injury could keep Prior out cannot be determined as of yet. The results of the MRI are not expected until Saturday morning and O'Neal said much will rely on how Prior feels Saturday.

"A lot will be determined by how sore he is," O'Neal said. "You swell the most in the first 24 hours. There is no way to tell right now how long this is going to be."

According to O'Neal, the line drive struck Prior on the lateral side of his right elbow in a fleshy area between the two lateral bones. The MRI will help to determine how severe the bruise is and if there are any other problems.

Prior's injury affected the entire team. Watching his starter go to the ground with the gunshot-like hit shocked manager Dusty Baker.

"The first thing that goes through your mind is, "Oh no, I hope it's not as serious as it looks," Baker said. "It kind of makes you sick to your stomach actually. We knew he was in pain and just knock on wood, hope nothing is seriously wrong."

After laying on the field for a few minutes, attended to by trainers, Prior walked off on his own accord but held his right arm close to his body and looked to still be in pain.

Prior (4-1) pitched a total of 3 1/3 innings allowing only one earned run off two hits. He walked three and struck out three during his short time on the mound. He threw a total of 55 pitches with 35 of them strikes.

For many of the players, seeing this injury was like listening to a broken record. It seems like the injury bug just won't leave the team alone.

"I first thought that everything is going wrong for the team," Neifi Perez said. "One of the guys that is throwing good right now for the team gets hurt."

Prior's early exit is one of a string of problems the Cubs have had with starting pitchers this season. Carlos Zambrano recently had to leave one of his starts after 3 1/3 innings with tightness in his arm and Kerry Wood is currently on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder strain.

"It's hard to explain," catcher Henry Blanco said of the team's injury problems. "This is the way it is. You have to pick up your head. I think we're going to be fine."

Kelly Thesier is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.