Injured Cardinals pitcher Mark Mulder -- having recovered discernible velocity on his fastball after just three minor league rehabilitation appearances -- is anticipating a promotion to Memphis and a probable return to St. Louis no later than mid-May.
Mulder struggled somewhat with command as he threw 49 of 84 pitches for strikes in a five-inning, 12-4 victory in his most recent outing for Double A Springfield at Tulsa. But he found he was able to exceed the 90 mph threshold with regularity as he struck out five batters while walking four.
Mulder garnered outs on seven infield grounders while giving up four runs on six hits. Increased velocity was the likely cause for Mulder's wildness in the first inning, when he allowed the first five batters to reach base.
It was the 30-year-old lefty's second appearance against the Drillers last week, having beaten them the previous Sunday when he threw six innings without giving up a run, though he relied mostly on breaking balls and other offspeed pitches in that appearance.
"I am 10 times happier with this outing that I was about my last one against these guys," Mulder was quoted as telling the Tulsa World. "I was wild, but my arm and my delivery worked so much better..."
Barring regression after coming back from rotator cuff surgery, Mulder likely should need no more than three appearances before returning to St. Louis, and could return sooner. Mulder is expected to make his next outing Friday, with an announcement being awaited Monday as to whether he will appear at Springfield or Memphis.