Second Opinion Leads to Mulder Surgery

A second opinion has confirmed Mark Mulder's frustrating 2006 season is over - leading to an uncertain future for the lefty.

St. Louis Cardinals left-handed starting pitcher Mark Mulder was seen Wednesday by Mets' surgeon Dr. David Altchek in New York and Dr. Altchek's findings were consistent with the diagnosis of Cardinals Team Physician Dr. George Paletta.

The doctors concurred that arthroscopic surgery of Mulder's left rotator cuff is recommended. The surgical procedure will be performed next week.

Mulder was placed on the disabled last week for the second time this season. He missed two months of the season (June 21 to August 22) earlier this year due to an impingement that was affecting his arm slot along with fraying of his rotator cuff.

Mulder, one of the game's winningest active lefthanders at 103-57, is 6-7 in 17 starts this year with a 7.14 ERA. Overall as a Cardinal, Mulder is 22-15 with a 4.74 ERA.

The 29-year-old becomes a free agent at season's end and may need to sign an incentive-laden deal in 2007 to demonstrate his health and re-establish his effectiveness.

Despite more optimistic projections provided by some others, we have been forecasting season-ending surgery for Mulder even before his recent ineffective minor-league rehab appearances and his ugly two-start return to the major leagues.

We remain concerned about Mulder's future based on his heavy workload and the fact that his secondary numbers have declined each year since 2002. In addition to his shoulder ailment, Mulder had hip problems while with Oakland that some feared were degenerative.

It seems that Mulder will have to be in "show-me" mode in 2007, whether he returns to the Cardinals or continues his playing career elsewhere.

See earlier stories:
September 1: "Cardinals Injury Update".
August 18: "The Mulder Matrix".
June 26: "Rick Wilton on Mark Mulder".

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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