Continuing his struggle to come back from rotator cuff surgery, Cardinals lefty Mark Mulder appeared to take a step backward Tuesday in his fourth rehabilitation start, a 10-5 loss to offensive-minded Triple A Salt Lake at Memphis.
After making progress in his previous outing for Double A Springfield, Mulder strained to reach the high 80s with his fastball, clocked at a full 5-8 mph slower than his normal speed when healthy. Though Mulder never has been an especially hard thrower, he depends on modest velocity in order to achieve movement on his pitches.
Boobirds were evident among the 13,496 fans watching as Mulder surrendered two homers, nine runs (seven earned) on nine hits before being lifted in the fourth inning. Mulder walked one, struck out one and hit a batter while staying under the same 80-pitch limit set for him in his previous three outings. Once again, slightly more than half his offerings went for strikes.
Though Mulder was somewhat outside the strike zone, he often found his mark and was generally able to keep the ball down, even if some pitches were in the dirt, wide or inside.
Perhaps suffering what for him would be an early season dead arm, Mulder will likely need two more starts or more before returning to St. Louis perhaps by mid-May, barring a setback.