03/18/2013 11:00 PM ET
Prior trying to make an impression with Reds
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Pitcher Mark Prior wears a Reds uniform with his familiar No. 22 on the back, but his locker isn't among those in the Major League clubhouse.
No, it's around the corner and down the hall. Prior, who signed a Minor League contract with Cincinnati on March 1, is among the rows and rows of stalls in the Minor League clubhouse that has teammates that are comparatively still kids.
"Some of these guys were born in 1995," Prior noted on Monday. "They were seven or eight years old when I broke in and I broke in young. I think it surprises people when I tell them I'm 32 because they think I should be older.
"Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you're looking at it, I've been in extended [spring] and around a lot of Minor League guys. They have enthusiasm for the game. I'm on the back side of my career. They're on the front side. You enjoy seeing their desire to play and their will to play. It's refreshing. I can't keep up with them necessarily running and stuff. They keep you having fun. They're fun to hang out with. I've enjoyed my time in the Minor Leagues the last few years. I don't want to be there, nobody wants to be there, but it's a good bunch of guys."
Prior was once a young phenom for the Cubs from 2002-06, which included an All-Star 2003 season when he won 18 games and helped lead his team to the playoffs.
Because of a shoulder injury and reconstructive surgery, Prior hasn't thrown a pitch in the Majors since 2006. The past three years have been a long comeback attempt in the Minors as a reliever, an attempt he's trying to continue with the Reds.
Prior worked one inning of relief Monday against the Indians in a Triple-A game on a back field at Cleveland's complex. So far, he's had two games and an intrasquad game and says his velocity has generally been at 90-91 mph. On Thursday, he is scheduled to appear in a big league Spring Training game for the Reds against the A's at Goodyear Ballpark.
To this point, Prior has been pleased with his performances. He's also been free of pain.
"I tend to be living down a little bit more early on, which is a good result," Prior said as he made the walk from the Indians complex to the Reds facility down the street. "It's three outings, so there's not a lot of stock in it. But it's nice to see some things that you've worked on have helped."
Phillips gets day off after return from Classic
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips was in the original lineup vs. the Rockies Monday, but replaced by Cesar Izturis in a revised lineup. There wasn't an injury or anything to be alarmed about.
Phillips was still exhausted from playing in the World Baseball Classic for Team USA, which was eliminated Friday night at Marlins Park.
"Plus he didn't have his equipment, no problem," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Brandon has played more than the rest of us. Plus he had a bunch of [public relations] stuff. He's a little worn out. He went from Arizona to Miami and back."
Choo continues to rest after back spasms
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Reds center fielder and leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo still wasn't ready to return from back spasms on Monday. Chris Heisey started in his place vs. the Rockies.
Choo has not played since Friday and was scratched Saturday when his back started hurting.
"He's day to day," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He's getting better. He's not playing [Tuesday]. Then we have a day off [Wednesday] and we'll check and see after the off-day."
Choo is batting .400 (10-for-25) in 11 spring games and has seven hits in his last 11 at-bats.
"I'm not worried," Baker said. "He was playing awfully good before he got hurt. I just hope he can pick it back up where he left off."
Reds to sell 1,500 Opening Day tickets on Saturday
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Reds announced Monday that 1,500 tickets to the April 1 Opening Day game vs. the Angels will go on sale at 9 a.m. ET on Saturday. The tickets are only available at the Great American Ball Park box office window.
The available tickets for the 4:10 p.m. game are limited to 1,000 view level at $32 each and 500 standing room only at $20 each. There is a limit of four tickets per person. Last year in a similar sale, tickets sold out in less than one hour.
Because of construction on Crosley Terrace, fans looking to get a head start to the front of the line will not be permitted to wait before 9 a.m. on Friday.
• The Reds front office, including manager Dusty Baker and general manager Walt Jocketty, met privately on Monday afternoon. No decisions were reached on whether Aroldis Chapman will be used as a starter or closer.
"We met on a lot of things," Baker said. "We'll let you know when we get there."