Phoenix, AZ, United States (4E Sports) – Two-time All-Star pitcher Mark Mulder has launched his comeback attempt, working himself into shape as he plans to audition for clubs and hopes to land an invitation to a Spring Training camp.
A former pillar in the Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals rotation, Mulder retired in 2009 after two surgeries on his left shoulder reduced his effectiveness. He’s been working as an analyst at ESPN since 2011.
However, Mulder decided to take a shot at a comeback after watching Los Angeles Dodgers’ Paco Rodriguez on TV, seeing something in the reliever’s delivery that he could emulate.
Mulder spent the month of November working himself into shape at a Phoenix-area facility run by former big-league catcher Chad Moeller, and recently threw off the mound for three unspecified teams near his home in Scottsdale.
He said scouts clocked his fastball at 89-90 mph. Now he’s hoping to audition for more clubs and land an invitation to a spring training camp.
“I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am,” Mulder said. “To be honest with you, I never anticipated this five or six weeks ago. It was just a flat-out fluke that came from me trying to imitate Paco Rodriguez in my living room.”
Mulder began his professional career with Oakland in 1998 as the No. 2 overall choice in the draft — one pick after the Philadelphia Phillies selected outfielder Pat Burrell with the top choice.
Mulder was 23 years old in 2001 when he went 21-8 with a 3.45 ERA to finish second to Roger Clemens in the American League Cy Young Award balloting.
Mulder, Tim Hudson and Barry Zito — Oakland’s “Big Three” — helped lead the Athletics to four straight playoff appearances from 2000 through 2003.
The Athletics sent Mulder to St. Louis in December 2004 in a four-player trade that brought Dan Haren to Oakland, and Mulder went 16-8 with a 3.64 ERA in 2005. But Mulder said his delivery and arm “never worked right” after he underwent shoulder surgeries in 2006 and 2007.
Mulder, who is under contract for two more years with ESPN, plans to put his TV future on temporary hold while he pursues his goal of pitching in the majors again.