Like most catchers, Potomac's Bryan Prince knows all about the pain that goes with his position.

But it wasn't a foul tip, a collision at the plate or worn out knees that sidelined Prince for last season's final two months. It was his right arm.

He said he started feeling pain in his shoulder near the end of June, but continued playing for the Cannons through the middle of July before he was put on the disabled list.

"I tried to keep playing through the pain for a while," said Prince, 25. "I played until it was unbearable, and I just couldn't do it anymore."

He had surgery on his right shoulder last August, fixing a problem more commonly associated with pitchers -- his rotator cuff and his labrum, a type of cartilage found in the joint.

But after a long offseason of physical therapy, the Reds' 10th-round pick of the 2001 amateur draft has put up some of the best numbers of his professional career.

Prince has never been a power hitter -- he has just 13 home runs in his four professional seasons and last season it took him 47 games to collect just 15 RBI. But in 28 games this year he has two home runs and has knocked in 17 runs. He has drawn 14 walks, compared with 20 all last season, and is hitting nine points over his career average of .229.

"I'd like to be hitting better, and I can definitely improve," said Prince, who was an all-ACC catcher at Georgia Tech. "But I've done a good job with situational hitting, and I try to battle every at-bat."

Twice before, Prince had arthroscopic surgery, once on each knee. But coming back from this injury took a lot of work. After the surgery, he had physical therapy as often as four times a week and didn't throw a baseball at all until December. But he was ready to go by the time spring training started.

"It was a really long offseason, but we got all the problems taken care of. I just had to get used to how my arm felt and throwing every day again," Prince said. "But now I can make that throw down to second base fine."