Mulder Struggles In Rehab Victory

Pitching on a rehab assignment with the Double-A Springfield Cardinals, Mark Mulder faced nine batters and gave up three runs on two hits and three walks in just the first inning. On an 85 pitch count for the night, it took the left-hander 30 pitches to just get through the lineup the first time.

After barely surviving the first inning, Mulder held Tulsa scoreless over the next three innings before giving up a home run to the Drillers' Matt Miller. Overall, Mulder surrendered four runs on six hits and four walks, while striking out five, in five innings of work. Mulder did pick up the win, despite being ineffective, as the baby Redbirds scored six runs for the left-hander before he turned the game over to the bullpen.

On a rehab assignment because he had off-season surgery on a torn rotator cuff, Mark has been battling multiple injuries to his left arm over the last two seasons. Placed on the 15 Day DL on Tuesday, March 25th, retroactive to March 21st, the Cardinals have expected and hope that he can return to the rotation by mid-May.

Last year 30-year-old left-hander pitched in just three games for St. Louis, going 0-3 with an ERA of 12.27. Prior to the 2007 campaign, Mulder had posted a feeble record of 6-7 in 2006 with a bloated 7.14 ERA in 17 games, before being shut down prior to the end of the regular season.

Last Sunday (4/20) for the Springfield Cardinals, Mulder worked six scoreless frames, against the same Tulsa ballclub he faced Friday night, but was more effective, allowing just three hits and three walks, earning the victory in a 10-3 win.

In his first rehab start, he pitched five innings for the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League on (4/15), allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits vs. Daytona, striking out one and not allowing a walk and at time, appeared to be on the fast track back to St. Louis

Mulder has been limited to 20 major league starts the last two seasons due to shoulder woes. The Cardinals would like to see him get is pitch count up to 100 and his fastball at least in the 90 MPH range, before they insert him into the rotation.

I'm expecting him to make two more rehab starts before rejoining the Cardinals rotation. Looking ahead, I would suggest he would be activated on May 13, when St. Louis returns from a road trip to begin a six game homestand, to include two three-game sets, one against the Pittsburg Pirates and the other against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Originally drafted by Oakland in first round (second overall) of 1998 June Draft, Mulder was traded to St. Louis for Dan Haren, Daric Barton and Kiko Calero on 12/19/04

He signed a two-year, $13 million contract with an $11 million club option for 2009 with the Cardinals in January of 2007. The Cardinals are still hoping they can get some return on their investment. Only time will tell.

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