Inside Pitch: Mulder Says Goodbye To A's Family

The initial shock of getting traded had Mark Mulder so speechless, he later felt bad that he didn't sound very excited when St. Louis Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty talked to him.<br> But a few days later, it started to sink in that he really is gone from Oakland, that he's really joining a team that was in the World Series last year, and that he really won't be pitching in the same rotation with close friends Tim Hudson and Barry Zito anymore.

"Those are some of my best friends," Mulder said. "It's going to be weird. I've only pitched with those guys. We've all relied on each other. We all pushed each other in a good way. We all knew this would happen, sooner or later, but we didn't think it would happen this quickly. It was quite the shocker."

The friendship and rivalry will continue across divisions, leagues and time zones.

Mulder is excited to hit on a regular basis in the National League. He already has a bet with Hudson over who will hit the first home run.

"Me and Huddy will come up with some more good (bets)," Mulder said. "He already told me he's raking me if we ever face each other."

Mulder hit .335 his junior year at Michigan State, but he's just 1-for-22 in interleague games.

"Those numbers don't look too good," Mulder said. "It's tough when you only get four or five at-bats a year. I know I can do it. I just haven't done it since college. I'm looking forward to taking batting practice, helping myself out by moving somebody over, or getting base hits."

Mulder reiterated he was fine physically down the stretch, when he went 0-4 with an 8.31 ERA and .365 opponents' average in his final seven starts.

"I don't know if I got tired," he said. "I started thinking too much down the stretch. I was completely fine. There's nothing wrong with me. It was one of those things. I flat-out struggled. I've never struggled like that in my career -- even when I was a rookie. More than anything, it was embarrassing for myself. I was trying so hard to get out of it.

"Is it something that I'm concerned with? No. I'll be ready in spring training. I hit a bump in the road. It was a big bump."

Mulder regrets that he wasn't able to say goodbye to the friends he made at the Coliseum, such as the clubhouse kids, grounds crew members and security guards. He's glad another buddy, Jason Isringhausen, could give advice on where to live in St. Louis during the season.

"I've heard nothing but great things about St. Louis," Mulder said. "I've had numerous e-mails from players that I'm friends with who used to play there and how much they loved it there. They said it's such a great baseball town; the atmosphere there is all about baseball. That's exciting for me. The fans we had were great. We just didn't have a lot of them. I'll enjoy playing in front of a packed house every night."


--OF Eric Byrnes spent the morning of Dec. 20 as the guest co-host with F.P. Santangelo on KNBR 680. Byrnes was razzed by Santangelo and teammate Eric Chavez that he would get non-tendered or traded while on the radio. But later that day, Byrnes was tendered a contract.

--RHP Chad Bradford, who was eligible for salary arbitration, was signed for a one-year deal for $1.4 million. Bradford is still a candidate to be traded.

--2B Mark Ellis was signed to a one-year contract for $400,000. Ellis is coming off a torn labrum and will compete with Keith Ginter for the starting second base job.

--RHP Tim Harikkala, who was claimed off waivers from Colorado on Oct. 6, was signed to a split contract. If he's in the majors, he will received $335,000 and $100,000 if he's in the minors.

--RHP Octavio Dotel, RHP Juan Cruz, DH Erubiel Durazo and OF Bobby Kielty were also tendered contracts on the final day for players eligible for salary arbitration.

BY THE NUMBERS: 12.5 million -- Amount of money Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder will earn this year. They were replaced by six players who will earn less than $2 million combined.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was two tough phone calls, it really was. We just couldn't keep on adding on. It would be obvious for anybody running this club. It's a choice between half in and half out. The way I looked at it, we had a choice of being a little uncomfortable now or real uncomfortable in six months to a year." -- A's general manager Billy Beane, after trading away Mark Mulder two days after trading Tim Hudson.

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