TEMPE, Ariz. — Mark Mulder’s comeback attempt with the Angels ended before it really began. The veteran left-hander suffered a rupture of his left Achilles' tendon during an agility drill Saturday morning and will be out for the season, General Manager Jerry Dipoto confirmed.
Mulder, 36, hasn’t pitched since July 2008, he hasn’t won a game since 2006, and he was perfectly content in retirement, playing golf, working as an ESPN analyst and being a father to three kids, ages 6, 4 and 2.
Then last October, as he watched the playoffs, Mulder was intrigued by the way Dodgers reliever Paco Rodriguez separated his hands near the top of his delivery. Mulder mimicked the motion in the living room of his Phoenix home and was surprised by how natural it felt.
Mulder began playing catch and threw for scouts in November and December. He signed a minor league deal with the Angels on Jan. 1, and the team was confident he would have an excellent chance of winning a rotation spot.
“I feel like a little kid with a new toy,” Mulder said in a recent interview. “It’s getting better each time I throw.”
But Mulder’s comeback hopes were dashed Saturday morning when he suffered his injury just before he was scheduled to throw his first bullpen workout on the second day of spring training camp. An MRI test confirmed the severity of the injury.
Almost ironically, Mulder said his biggest concern entering camp wasn’t the left shoulder he had surgery on in 2006 and 2007. It was his legs and lower back, which are more susceptible to injury after hours of drills and shagging fly balls on Arizona’s sun-baked fields.