Mulder could start vs. Pirates; Cards eye six-man rotation

Updated: September 1, 2007, 1:17 AM ET
Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- Mark Mulder could rejoin the St. Louis Cardinals' rotation next week as a sixth starter, a little more than one year after shoulder surgery.

Mark Mulder


The left-hander, coming back from an operation last Sept. 13 to repair a torn rotator cuff, worked five innings in his fourth rehab start on Friday night. Pitching for Triple-A Memphis, he allowed two runs on three hits with four strikeouts and a walk against Nashville, the Brewers' Triple-A affiliate.

The only damage to Mulder, who threw 65 pitches, was a two-run homer by Mike Rivera in the second inning.

St. Louis, 2 games back in the NL Central going into Friday night, is in the midst of playing its final 35 games in a 34-day stretch with no days off. A six-man rotation would allow the team to give some extra rest to fatigued pitchers like Adam Wainwright and Braden Looper, a pair of converted relievers.

Mulder could be slotted in Wednesday or Thursday at home against the Pirates.

"There's a possibility if he keeps moving forward, he could pitch in that Pittsburgh series," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "He's not here yet, so let's let him take his assignment, because he may need another one. I don't want to put any pressure on him."

The 30-year-old Mulder threw about 60 pitches in his third rehab start, and La Russa said the plan called for him to increase to 75-80 on Friday.

Mulder was 6-7 with a 7.14 ERA in 17 starts last year and had two stints on the disabled list. He was a 21-game winner for Oakland in 2001 and was 16-8 with a 3.64 ERA in 2005, his first year with the Cardinals.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press