Notes: Prior continues to make progress

Notes: Prior continues to make progress

PHOENIX -- Mark Prior threw 35 pitches in a simulated game on Sunday at HoHoKam Park, and is continuing to make progress.

"He threw the ball pretty good," said manager Dusty Baker. "He was better the second inning than the first. The important thing was, he was on the mound. I thought he did pretty good."

Pitching coach Larry Rothschild said that he wants to wait until he sees Prior on Monday before announcing the next step. He and Baker can control how many pitches Prior throws in a simulated game better than they could in a Cactus League game.

"You want to build up innings," said Rothschild. "He could throw one inning [in a game] and throw 30 pitches and we'd have to get him out of there."

Prior will throw on Monday, take Tuesday off, then pitch again, most likely in another simulated game. There's still a chance that he could make three Cactus League starts.

"Hopefully, a minimum of three," said Rothschild. "I think if we build up the innings, three could be enough. I just have to see how he is [Monday] and go from there."

Baker said that there's plenty of time for Prior to get ready. Prior is tentatively scheduled to start the second game of the regular season, April 5 against Cincinnati.

"[Time's] not running out yet," said Baker. "He's progressing, that's what we want. Nothing's wrong, nothing hurts. It's just a matter of him getting on the mound."

Kerry Wood threw 12 pitches off the mound on Sunday, the first time he threw off the mound since he had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Tuesday.

"He threw about 12 pitches off the mound and a bunch off flat ground," said Rothschild. "It's pretty amazing to watch."

Wade Miller, rehabbing from arthroscopic shoulder surgery, had Sunday off and will throw off the mound for the second time on Monday.

Second chance: Now that Jerry Hairston Jr.'s headache is gone, he can concentrate on second base -- and showing that he's 100 percent recovered from an ankle injury that hindered him in 2005.

"I really feel like myself again," said Hairston. "It's taken awhile. Obviously, I had a minor setback [when I was hit in the head by a pitch last week]. I feel good, and I'm trying to get back to playing again. I'm really focused on starting the season good. The thing we talk about in here is that we really want to get off to a good start. We know it's not a must, but it helps."

The Cubs should have a stronger running game this season with the addition of Juan Pierre and a healthy Hairston.

"You look at teams that have won the [World Series] the last three, four years, and they've had some type of speed," said Hairston. "You need it. Hopefully, we can add that to the game."

Old school: Greg Maddux gave up one run on two hits over three innings against the Brewers on Sunday, facing 11 batters in his second spring start. The veteran right-hander, who turns 40 in April, doesn't change his spring routine too much.

"I pretty much try to work on everything," said Maddux. said. "You like to start with the things you do best. Once you feel comfortable doing the things you do best, then you try to go onto the things you need to improve on."

Maddux's older brother, Mike, 44, is the Brewers' pitching coach. Has Greg ever thought about coaching?

"I'm still playing, man," he said. "I'm not done. He likes it. He loves coaching. He's doing a good job. All the pitchers like him. When you're helping somebody, they like you. They all like him, which is a good thing. A few of their pitchers have said very nice things about him to me, and it's kind of cool to hear.

"I want to play, and have a good year and see what happens next year," he added. "I've got too much hair to coach."

Extra bases: Carlos Zambrano is expected to start for Team Venezuela against Puerto Rico on Monday in Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic. Cuba beat Venezuela, 7-2, on Sunday in the first game of second-round play. ... Third baseman Aramis Ramirez (infected right finger) made his first start since Monday and looked 100 percent healthy when he hit a two-run homer in the first. ... Told he has used 19 leadoff men in three years with the Cubs, Baker said, "It's not by design." ... Jacque Jones, Andy MacPhail and Randy Bush were part of the Cubs contingent in Minneapolis on Sunday to attend a memorial service for Kirby Puckett, who passed away last week. ... Eric Patterson, younger brother of Corey Patterson, spent the winter training with Matt Murton at Georgia Tech. ... Felix Pie is taking English lessons with a private tutor three or four times a week. ... Todd Walker knows that eventually he could switch to first base. "That might be my spot before too long," said Walker. ... The Cubs wives have rescheduled their food drive for Saturday at HoHoKam Park.

On deck: The Cubs play host to the Colorado Rockies at HoHoKam Park. Glendon Rusch is slated to make his third spring start for the Cubs. The game will be televised on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.