01/13/09 9:12 PM EST
Prior gets another shot with Padres
San Diego signs pitcher, Burke to one-year Minor League deals
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
On Tuesday, the Padres signed Prior and infielder Chris Burke to one-year Minor League deals and extended both players invitations to Spring Training.
A year ago, the Padres signed Prior to a one-year deal worth $1 million, but the right-hander never appeared in a game at the Minor League or Major League level after he needed surgery on his right shoulder.
The Padres weren't the only team in the mix for Prior, general manager Kevin Towers said on Tuesday.
"It was pretty competitive. ... I think the Yankees came on strong," Towers said. "But he is a guy we have rehabbed for a year. His long-toss work, it looks like he has good carry on the ball. He got up on the mound for the first time Friday."
Towers didn't rule out the possibility of Prior being able to work out with the rest of the Padres pitchers at the start of Spring Training next month in Arizona.
Prior will earn $1 million if he pitches at the Major League level this season. Burke, who figures to contend for the starting job at second base, will earn $650,000.
Prior, 28, hasn't pitched at the Major League level since 2006. He was an innings-eater from 2002-2005 with the Cubs, throwing 613 innings with a 3.24 ERA, including 2003 when he went 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA.
Burke, also 28, played six positions last season with Arizona -- four positions in the infield and both corner outfield spots. He hit .194 in 86 games, and Towers thinks he is a much better hitter than that and that moving around as much as he did never allowed Burke to get comfortable.
Burke is a career .241 hitter over 445 games in his five Major League seasons with the Astros (2004-07) and D-backs (2008).
"He's a scrappy player who runs well and a solid defender," Towers said. "He has played behind [Craig] Biggio in Houston and [Orlando] Hudson in Arizona. I don't know if he's ever really gotten a chance to show what he can do.
"Even though it's a non-roster deal, we feel like he's got a chance to be on our ballclub."
Towers likes the fact Burke is a right-handed hitter and has mashed left-handed pitching to the tune of 50 points higher (.274) than right-handed pitchers. Towers indicated that he wouldn't rule out the possibility of Burke playing the outfield, especially against a tough left-handed pitcher.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.