Muldowney Making Progress

Cubs pitching prospect Billy Muldowney seemed poised for good things in 2007 – until he was shut down for the year.

Muldowney, the Cubs' eighth-round pick in the 2006 draft from Pittsburgh, got off to a strong start for Class-A Peoria in the Midwest League this past season, allowing five earned runs in his first three starts, a span of 17 innings, for a 2.65 ERA.

He struck out 20 batters and walked two in that span.

Unfortunately for the 23-year-old right-hander, he made only three more starts at Peoria – all of which saw him last just two innings or less.

As far back as his first start of the season on April 5 in frosty Appleton, Wis., Muldowney said he started to feel something amiss in his elbow.

"It started hurting toward the end of my first start, and then throughout my whole second start, it hurt," recalled Muldowney.

Muldowney said he wasn't too concerned with the pain in his elbow initially, but that soon changed when his fastball dropped a full 10 mph, he said.

He also wasn't able to throw his changeup because, "I couldn't get extended. When that started happening, I knew something was really wrong."

Muldowney was placed on the disabled list in early May and went to Extended Spring Training in Mesa, Ariz. While trying to work his way back, he was shut down after just two starts in the Arizona Rookie League that spanned three innings.

Muldowney underwent a procedure known as ulnar nerve transposition some time around the end of June and would miss the remainder of the 2007 season.

The good news is that his rehab is almost complete, and Muldowney expects to leave Arizona and return home to Pennsylvania later this week before beginning his off-season throwing program later this year. The Cubs require that all injured pitching prospects remain in Arizona for the duration of their rehab.

The elbow injury and subsequent operation was the first time Muldowney had ever experienced any real health-related setbacks during his pitching career, and as such he now feels a lot more educated about the science of his arm, he said.

"I think the amount of rehab and different exercises and all the care they (Cubs) put into the rehab program has given me a lot more knowledge of certain exercises that I may need to do if my arm is sore," Muldowney said.

"It's very specific stuff that they've got us doing down here."

Muldowney expects to be ready by Minor League Spring Training next March, but he plans to get a head-start and report to Arizona in January, he said.

He was 1-3 with a 2.68 ERA in 43 2/3 innings at Class Low A short-season Boise in his professional debut season in the Northwest League a year ago.

After logging just 25 1/3 innings this year, Muldowney has some catching up to do.

"I think the main thing right now is to get certain feels back," Muldowney said. "I haven't thrown and won't be throwing any off-speed pitches until December, so that will be about five to six months since I've thrown those pitches, which are feel pitches. I'll be working on getting my feel back."


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