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Prior pitches in game, Soriano throws BP

New York Yankees right-hander Mark Prior is back pitching after missing almost three months because of a strained groin.

The converted reliever said it was a step in the right direction Wednesday after allowing an unearned run and one hit over two innings for the Gulf Coast League Yankees against Atlanta minor leaguers.

In his first outing since pitching on April 18 at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Prior threw 24 pitches with a fastball that reached 90 mph.

Prior has struggled with shoulder injuries and made his previous major league appearance in August 2006. The 30-year old went 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA in 30 starts for the NL Central champion Chicago Cubs in 2003.

Also, Yankees reliever Rafael Soriano threw 25 pitches during his second batting practice session since going on the disabled list May 17 because of right elbow inflammation.

Soriano signed a three-year, $35 million deal with New York in the offseason to handle the eighth inning, but struggled while adapting to the new role. He was 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 16 appearances before the injury.

Left-hander Pedro Feliciano, hoping to avoid surgery for a left shoulder tear, has resumed a light throwing program. Reliever Damaso Marte, coming back from left shoulder surgery, is continuing to throw off a bullpen mound.

Also, the Yankees have finalized a contract with 24-year old Cuban right-hander Reinier Casanova and assigned him to the GCL Yankees.