Notes: Duel of top draft picks on tap

Notes: Duel of top draft picks on tap

MINNEAPOLIS -- In 2001, Mark Prior was the second player taken in the First-Year Player Draft. Twins catcher Joe Mauer was selected first. The two will square off Saturday when Prior makes his second start of the season.

"That's five years ago and I don't worry about it," Prior said. "They're playing really well right now and I put more stock in that."

Mauer is playing really well and entered Friday's game leading the American League in batting average at .375.

"He's a great player," Prior said. "He was a great player coming out of high school. The little bit I've seen of him on TV, he's a good-hitting catcher, a big kid and a great player. I think it was the right decision [in the draft].

"I think it worked out for everybody," Prior continued. "I guess the fans, the media, everybody likes to hype [the matchup] up. It doesn't change that he's the same as any other No. 3, 4 hitter in the lineup."

Prior's more focused on having a better outing than his first start. He lasted 3 2/3 innings on June 18, giving up eight runs on seven hits. The right-hander, whose season was slowed because of a strained muscle in his shoulder, said he probably won't be feeling right until after the All-Star break.

"I'm not going to be at a point where I can throw 115 [pitches until then]," he said. "I feel comfortable, I feel like my stuff is in good shape. I didn't throw well the other day, I didn't make adjustments like I should have. I'm happy with where I'm at right now, but there's a lot more upside. I'm not going to throw the way I did the other day. Physically, I'm feeling pretty good."

Familiar faces: Jacque Jones was back on familiar turf Friday. He had no problem finding the visiting clubhouse at the Metrodome, although he had spent his entire career with the Twins before signing with the Cubs this offseason.

"I knew I'd come back here someday," Jones said. "I've played here before. Different dugout, different clubhouse but baseball is going to be the same."

So he didn't get lost?

"I know this place like the back of my hand," Jones said.

"Jacque has meant a lot to us," manager Dusty Baker said. "You take away the first month and he'd be among the league leaders in a lot of departments. He's a quality young man and hustles all the time. I like the way he plays the game."

Suitable attire: Scott Eyre has some new pants. The Cubs left-hander was issued a warning by Major League Baseball for taking the elastic out of the bottom of his old pants, but Eyre said he never received the news.

"I was kind of upset," said Eyre, who talked to the Major League Baseball Players Association and got the matter cleared up. He simply got new pants.

"I'll make 'em longer and baggier," he said.

Sing along: Silver medalist figure skater Sasha Cohen will sing during the seventh-inning stretch on Monday at Wrigley Field. Former Cub Ken Holtzman will sing Tuesday and Cubs television announcer Len Kasper will lead the crowd on Wednesday. Brewers announcer Bob Uecker will sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" on Thursday.

The Cubs have yet to announce who will lead the crowd next weekend for the rematch against the White Sox, although WGN Radio broadcaster Ron Santo and the group Chicago are currently scheduled to sing that weekend.

Extra bases: Kerry Wood will throw a bullpen session when he feels ready. Wood is on the disabled list because of stiffness in his right shoulder. "It depends on when he feels he's capable of doing it," Baker said. "I can't say if it's Sunday, Monday or Tuesday." ... Michael Barrett was able to return home to Atlanta on Thursday to check on the progress of repair work done on his home, which was damaged in April by a wind storm. ... This is Baker's first trip to the Metrodome since his playing days. "The roof is a definite factor here," he said. "I've seen a lot of balls lost here the couple years I was here. It's worse on day games. ... The turf is a different turf than when I played here. Before it was the hard bouncy Astro Turf. This is softer, the ball doesn't bounce nearly as high. You still need a quick team on this turf."

Minor matters: Felix Pie hit a three-run triple and Luis Montanez drove in two runs and hit his third homer to help Triple-A Iowa beat Omaha, 8-5, on Thursday. Scott Williamson picked up the save, giving up two hits in two innings. Ryan O'Malley gave up four runs on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings. Ryan Theriot had two hits and two RBIs. ... Eric Patterson was 3-for-4 with a homer, triple and two RBIs in Double-A West Tenn's 3-2 win over Mississippi. Chris Shaver gave up one run, unearned, on three hits and four walks over six innings. ... Class A Daytona opened the second half with a 4-1 win over Vero Beach. Mark Holliman threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out four for the win. ... Wade Miller gave up three hits in three scoreless innings and struck out three in his first rehab start for Class A Peoria. The Chiefs lost, 4-0, to Quad Cities. Jesus Valdez had two hits. ... Deryck Lewis had two hits and two RBIs in Class A Boise's 7-3 loss to Eugene. Jeremy Papelbon threw two scoreless innings. ... Angel Pagan was 0-for-3 and scored a run in the Rookie League Mesa's 6-5 loss to the Angels. Phil Norton gave up two runs on three hits in two innings.

On deck: The Cubs will play Game 2 of this weekend series in Minnesota with Prior scheduled to start Saturday night against Boof Bonser. Game time is 6:10 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on WGN Radio and WGN TV.

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