The agent for left-hander Mark Mulder refuted reports that the former All-Star had decided to retire, but a former teammate spoke with Mulder on Monday and confirmed that he’s, “done.”
That former teammate was Oakland A’s infielder Eric Chavez, who spoke via telephone with Mulder after reports began swirling that Mulder, who has been dogged by a shoulder injury since 2006, was calling it a career instead of attempting another comeback.
Chavez can relate to Mulder’s difficult decision. Chavez has been limited to 121 games over the past three seasons by back and shoulder injuries.
“I know one thing for sure was that if Mark didn’t feel right, he wasn’t going to come back,” Chavez said. “He wanted to come back 100 percent and didn’t want to suffer like he has been the last couple of years. Once you’ve played a game at a certain level and dominated, it becomes a lot tougher to come back. You want to tap into your abilities and know you can still perform well. He wasn’t going to do it if he knew he couldn’t be successful and contribute.
“It must have been a really hard decision, especially considering how short his career was. I can definitely relate to what he’s been going through, and I know how hard it is to weigh all the factors and decide if it’s worth it to go through with everything.”
The Milwaukee television station Today’s TMJ-4 first reported on Sunday that Mulder planned to hang up his spikes. Not so fast, agent Gregg Clifton said later in the day.
“Mark has not decided to retire,” Clifton wrote in an e-mail to MLB.com. “He is reassessing his options in his efforts to come back.”
In separate comments to the San Francisco Chronicle, Clifton said, “I’m not saying Mark won’t [retire]. But he has not made any decision.”
Mulder, 32, was the American League Cy Young Award runner-up in 2001 and an All-Star in 2003 and 2004. He has been limited to six appearances since 2006 because of rotator cuff woes and didn’t pitch at all in 2009.
Brewers officials, including Peterson, met with Mulder in Arizona in early January and later extended him a Minor League offer with an invitation to big league camp. But he was slow to respond, leaving club officials to wonder about his commitment to a comeback. Then came Sunday’s report that Mulder was to retire.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” Peterson said. “He really had to think about whether he wanted to go through this.”
Peterson worked with Mulder as recently as last summer on correcting some flaws in his delivery. Mulder has another backer in Brewers manager Ken Macha, another former Oakland colleague.
“I would feel really bad about that [if Mulder retired],” Macha said. “He was a good person and a pretty darn good pitcher for me in Oakland. He’s too young to call it a career.”
The second overall pick in the 1998 Draft, Mulder is 103-60 with a 4.18 ERA in parts of nine seasons with the A’s and Cardinals. He won at least 15 games in five consecutive seasons from 2001-2005, four of those working with Peterson in Oakland. In 2005, Mulder went 16-8 with a 3.64 ERA in 32 starts with the Cardinals, but he was limited to 17 starts the following season as shoulder injuries derailed his career.