Tuesday, February 16, 2010

No Mulder For Brewers

A few weeks ago, while starting to get excited for Brewers baseball, the subject of pitching was brought up.

It was mentioned that veteran free agent Mark Mulder, after battling injuries for a couple years, was looking at a return, and his team could be the Brewers.

No dice.

Mulder had either decided to retire, step away from baseball for a while, or he doesn't know what he's going to do.

No matter the decision, it doesn't sound like he'll be a Brewer. Yet.

"It's unbelievable. Where is it coming from?" he asked me with a chuckle. "I never said 'retirement.' That's the wrong word. The thing is, physically, I feel great, but my arm just doesn't work the way I want to work, so I just shut it down from throwing. But I never really said I was going to retire; I'm 32 and I don't feel like there's anything physically wrong with me."

Several reports today indicated that Mulder was calling it a career, and Mulder's longtime teammate Eric Chavez told me and other media members that essentially the same thing. "He said he's done," Chavez told me this afternoon.

"But he didn't really do a good job of convincing me. I said, 'You're not going to be the next Brett Favre are you?' "

Mulder said what it really amounts to is that he's stepping back for at least awhile. After two-plus years of surgery and rehab and visiting specialists and therapists, he has grown frustrated with the fact that even though he feels terrific, his left shoulder doesn't rotate exactly right, or that's how it feels.

He told me he doesn't feel like he can get behind the ball properly when he's throwing out of a delivery, although everything is just fine when he's playing catch or doing long toss. The mechanics of the delivery are what are off, somehow, and he hasn't solved that puzzle despite consulting with everyone from motion experts to former coaches.

Who knows about June, I guess?

Mulder would have been a nice addition from a competition standpoint. However, he has to have looked at the Brewers' glut of starting pitchers and wondered where he would fit in, even if he were healthy.

Unfortunately for Brewer fans, no Mulder increases the likelihood of Jeff "Money Eater" Suppan hanging around. Suppan is in his contract year, assuming the Brewers don't pick up his option (why would they?). Hopefully, he finds a way to locate pitches better than he did in 2009, and he can be a somewhat-valuable player for the team.

The good thing about Mulder not showing up is that there is no threat of the Brewers having four lefties in the starting rotation. Given the number of right-handed hitters in the NL Central, too many lefties could actually be a bad thing.

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