General manager Jim Hendry said Dr. James Andrews told him Mark Prior "will still have a career" when he returns. "It's certainly not career-ending," Hendry said. "[Andrews is] optimistic [Prior will] be able to pitch next year." Because Prior was on the minor-league disabled list instead of the Cubs' disabled list at the time of the surgery, he will not accrue any major-league service time in 2007. That means he won't be eligible for free agency until after 2009, even if he returns for the entire 2008 season. But the Cubs will have the option of non-tendering Prior instead of paying him another $3.4 million to $3.5 million in '08, as he likely would get in an arbitration hearing, based on his current $3.575 million salary. Hendry declined to discuss Prior's future in the organization. "You have to let the rehab process take place," Hendry said. "Obviously, we think a lot of Mark. ? Like always, you do everything in the best interests of the club. You make the decisions we have to make down the road."