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Barrett, Prior reflect on time with Cubs

Barrett, Prior reflect on time with Cubs

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PEORIA, Ariz. -- Michael Barrett was behind the plate for Sunday's Cubs game, but he was wearing a Padres uniform.

Barrett, Greg Maddux, Mark Prior and Glendon Rusch stopped by the visitor's clubhouse to say hello to some of their former teammates. The Padres have enough ex-Cubs to have alumni meetings.

"It's nice to be able to play with guys who you enjoyed playing with in Chicago," Prior said.

It would be easy to understand if Barrett had bad memories about his days with the Cubs. He was involved in a dugout fracas with Carlos Zambrano, and was traded last June to the Padres. He batted .226 for San Diego, and re-signed with the Padres in December.

"[Last season] was a bit crazy," Barrett said. "I finished the season off with the birth of my son, which saved the entire year."

Young Andrew Barrett is now four months old and healthy. When Barrett signed with the Cubs, he was eager to play at Wrigley Field.

"There isn't one day I regret going onto that field -- even at my worst times there, it's some of my best memories," the catcher said. "Putting on the pinstripes of the Cubs uniform was a dream come true and something I will always cherish."

He's had a little problem with daughter Grace.

"We have to train her from, 'Let's score some runs, Cubbies,' to saying the 'Padres' now, which isn't as easy as I thought it would be," Barrett said.

Has he moved on?

"You have to have perspective in this game," he said. "This game is about failure, and I failed a lot in Chicago. I'm not going to deny that or walk away from that. You try to learn from your mistakes.

"I feel I'm fortunate to be able to still be playing, and I feel I still have a lot to offer," he said.

The Cubs players didn't forget his contributions, and voted Barrett a full playoff share from the 2007 season.

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"That was huge," he said.

Prior is coming back from arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder, which he had last April. The procedure, performed by Dr. James Andrews, included a debridement of his right rotator cuff as well as repairing the labral and capsular injuries. Right now, he feels good.

"In years past, I've said that and thought I felt good, but now I know what it's like to be back and feeling healthy and able to throw the ball without any restrictions," he said. "I still have a long way to go and probably the hardest part to go, but so far it's been encouraging."

Prior is slated to start facing hitters this week, and if all goes well, he could be pitching in the big leagues in early June. The Cubs chose to not tender him a contract in December, and he signed with San Diego as a free agent. Does he have any regrets about his time in Chicago?

"I regret not being able to be out there and pitch more, but that's something that physically I wasn't able to do and didn't have a whole lot of control over it," the right-hander said. "I don't have any regrets. I enjoyed playing in Chicago and I have a lot of great memories there."

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

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