Pitcher Mark Mulder hoped to make a return to baseball after five years away, but unfortunately his Cinderella story won't have a fairy tale ending.
According to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim made the decision to release Mulder on Tuesday:
#Angels release P Mark Mulder, whose comeback was cut short by Achilles surgery.— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) March 11, 2014
Mulder's ouster comes on the heels of an Achilles injury during spring training. Per the Associated Press, via ESPN.com, the injury was suffered during an agility drill and ultimately amounted to bad luck on Mulder's part:
It wasn't anything new. 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.
As seen in this photo courtesy of Mulder's Instagram account, the injury is significant to say the least.
(Warning: Image may be graphic for some):
Battling back from an Achilles injury is difficult for anyone, let alone a 36-year-old pitcher who hasn't played since 2008. With the 2014 season out of the question for Mulder, it was only a matter of time before the Angels cut bait.
The big question now relates to whether Mulder will make another run at it in 2015. It may seem like a long shot in the wake of such a big injury, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia would love to see him try, according to the Associated Press' report:
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. We were really excited about it ... I hope he's not going to give up, but it's an incredible setback and it's tough. He was too close to quit on it and hopefully when he gets his surgery he can start again and make that comeback.
Nobody is more disappointed than Mulder that his comeback bid ended in such abrupt fashion, but former Oakland Athletics teammate Tim Hudson hated to see it happen as well, according to Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com:
Tim Hudson said it made him "sick to my stomach" to see Mark Mulder get injured on the first day of spring.— Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) February 16, 2014
Along with Hudson and Barry Zito, Mulder helped form one of the best starting pitching trios in baseball during the early-to-mid 2000s with the A's.
Should Mulder attempt a comeback in 2015?
Mulder was a two-time All-Star and finished second in the American League Cy Young voting in 2001 when he went 21-8, setting a career high for wins in a season.
The crafty lefty enjoyed five strong seasons in Oakland before playing four more with the St. Louis Cardinals. A shoulder injury plagued Mulder while with the Cards, though, and ultimately led to his initial retirement.
Few people were giving Mulder a legitimate chance to make it back to the big leagues, but he certainly seemed to be in position to do so prior to the injury. Unfortunately, his body simply couldn't hold up after so many years away.
As nice as it would be to see Mulder make another attempt at coming back in 2015, it may ultimately be best for him to call it career so as not to risk further injury.
If nothing else, at least he can take solace in knowing that he gave it his best shot.
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