Los Angeles Angels History: Mark Mulder Ends Comeback

Mark Mulder had been one of the better pitchers in the game with the Oakland Athletics until injuries derailed his career. His attempted comeback with the Los Angeles Angels met a similar fate.

For a time, Mark Mulder appeared to be on track for a possible Hall of Fame career. Through the 2005 season, he had produced a 97-50 record along with a 3.87 ERA and a 1.300 WHiP. At just 27 years old, and theoretically about to enter his prime, it appeared as though Mulder would have quite a bit of time to strengthen his resume.

However, 2005 was the last year that he was healthy. Shoulder injuries derailed his career, as he only appeared in 23 games in three seasons. During that time, Mulder was utterly dreadful, posting a 6-10 record with a 7.33 ERA and a 1.830 WHiP. While he was never a strikeout pitcher, Mulder only recorded 55 strikeouts in 106 innings. No longer able to get batters out, and dealing with those shoulder woes, Mulder hung up his cleats at just 30 years old following the 2008 campaign.

However, after sitting out for five years, and working as an analyst for ESPN, Mulder began to wonder about a comeback. He retooled his delivery, modelling it after Paco Rodriguez. Mulder got back on the mound, and his arm felt fine. The ball had that old life once again, and it seemed like he was healthy for the first time in years. The Los Angeles Angels took a chance, signing him to an incentive laden minor league deal that could have paid anywhere from $1 Million to $6 Million had he made the Major League roster.

Unfortunately, the comeback would not happen. Mulder trained as hard as possible in the three and a half months between signing with the Angels and the day pitchers and catchers reported. He was in excellent shape, and ready to go. Then, disaster struck.

On this day in 2014, literally the first day of Spring Training, Mulder tore his Achilles tendon, ending his comeback. The injury happened in what seemed to be the most benign manner, as Mulder and the pitchers were taking part in agility drills. One wrong step ruined the possible comeback, and the great story was done.

Mulder was not entirely ready to give up, however. He attempted to rehab his injury, and returned to the mound in July and August. While the velocity was not there at the beginning, he expected that it would return at some point. That just never happened, leaving Mulder to announce his retirement once more.

It would have been a great story, but literally one wrong step ended Mark Mulder’s comeback with the Los Angeles Angels. Instead, he was another great talent that left us to wonder what could have been.

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