Baseball: Injury cuts short 2014 comeback bid by Thornwood alum Mark Mulder
The Associated Press February 17, 2014 7:20PM
Los Angeles Angels pitcher Mark Mulder is carted off the field after hurting his ankle during the Angels first spring training baseball practice, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Updated: March 19, 2014 6:26AM
TEMPE, Ariz. — Mark Mulder described his season-ending — and possibly comeback-ending — left Achilles injury a freak accident.
“(Saturday) was a hard day,” Mulder, a South Holland native and Thornwood High School graduate, said Sunday. “I worked hard to get to this point. I felt really good about where I was and all the things I was doing. (For now) you go to bed and you wake up. I’ll get better. There are a lot of people who have it a lot worse.”
Attempting to return to the big leagues for the first time since 2008, Mulder, 36, was doing routine warmup agility drills while running backward Saturday before what would have been his first bullpen session with the Angels when he heard it.
At first, the two-time All-Star first thought he broke his shoe.
“It wasn’t anything new,” Mulder said of the drill. “I wasn’t going that hard at all. I was backpedaling, and I stopped to plant to go forward and hear a loud pop. I almost fell forward and was confused. I thought my shoe broke. I thought the heel popped out of my shoe. I felt like the ball of my foot wasn’t attached to my foot. I tried to take a step because I couldn’t process at all what was going on. I couldn’t really move.”
Mulder, a 6-foot-6 left-hander, was believed to be one of five Angels starters competing for three rotation spots behind Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson.
The way manager Mike Scioscia talked about Mulder, he had a solid shot of making his way in there.
“This guy worked too hard — and not only worked hard, but he was legitimately throwing the ball close to where he was in his prime which was really encouraging,” Scioscia said. “We were really excited about it.”
Mulder was 103-60 record over nine seasons, five with Oakland and four with St. Louis in a career that was cut short by shoulder injuries. He finished second to Roger Clemens in the 2001 AL Cy Young Award voting after posting a 21-8 record with Oakland.
Mulder is waiting to see what his doctor in Arizona says before he makes any decisions on his future.
“I’m going to meet with the doctor,” Mulder said. “I’d love to say ‘yes’ (to a comeback) but I don’t know. I’ve got to wait and see what the doctors say.”
Mulder said he was told his recovery could take five to eight months. On Sunday he sounded so confident of his comeback this season that he hinted that this might be harder for him to take than his exit in 2008.
“If it would have been an elbow or a shoulder, I would have said, ‘See ya. Thanks, I’m out,’ ” Mulder said. “This makes it doubly as hard. It’s tough to take. It’s not something I was expecting. I was worried about missing a few days with a back or hamstring or whatever. I did everything I could to prepare myself for this not to happen. This wasn’t something I could ever see happening.”
Scioscia would like to have Mulder back.
“I hope he’s not going to give up, but it’s an incredible setback and it’s tough,” Scioscia said. “He was too close to quit on it, and hopefully, when he gets his surgery he can start again and make that comeback.
“I think in the big picture that his confidence level is quite high and he feels that he can still do this,” Scioscia said.