The┬áPadres re-upped on Tuesday with pitcher Mark Prior on a one-year minor league deal that can earn the injury-plagued right-hander up to seven figures in salary in 2009. The unique contract requires Prior — who signed with the Padres before the ’08 season for $1 million, but did not pitch in a single game before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery — to wear a ski mask to the mound every time he pitches.

“Mark has stolen a lot of money from this organization over the past year, so we think it only appropriate that he agree to the ‘Ski Mask Clause’ this time around,” said Padres GM Kevin Towers. “It’s such a long shot that he actually takes the mound again, but if the miracle happens, at least we have our assets covered.”

The former Cub phenom also missed the entire 2007 season and hasn’t pitched in a game since 2006, when he went a putrid 1-6 for Chicago with a 7.21 ERA. The Cubs tried to write a similar clause into their Prior contract, but were met by resistance.

“We asked Mark to wear one of those Richard Nixon masks, but his dad refused to let him sign the deal, so we had to let him go,” said Cubs GM Jim Hendry. “After that situation, we vowed as an organization to never again sign a player with such a long history of injuries, unless of course they are switch-hitting outfielders.”

heckler editorial staff