Mulder tinkering with delivery
Lefty has scuffled to regain arm slot after shoulder surgery
WASHINGTON -- At a loss for a way to get his left arm back to its old slot, Mark Mulder tried something different. He's going to attempt to pitch from a different slot.
On Thursday morning, before the Cardinals' game against the Nationals at Nationals Park, Mulder threw a bullpen session with a new look. He threw almost like a catcher, with his arm at a lower angle than before and something of a cocking motion before pushing the ball forward. In baseball parlance, Mulder is short-arming the ball to an extent.
"I think it was just kind of something where you run out of options a little bit, and it's kind of, 'You know what? Let's try this,'" Mulder said.
"I feel like I'm throwing sidearm, but I'm not. Because I've been doing it this other way for so long, it feels that way to me, but it's not even close to that. But I feel myself releasing the ball out front, and it feels a lot better."
Mulder has undergone two operations on his pitching shoulder, and has been unable to regain the full extension on his arm. When he was at his best, he had a beautiful, fluid motion. But he simply can't replicate that anymore.
Rather than trying in vain any longer to do the same thing, he tried something else. He's committed to pitching from the lower slot, and for the time being, he's excited about the possibilities. A somewhat similar change worked for a while for the Braves' John Smoltz, who began dropping down to protect an elbow injury.
"My old way, or at least the way it felt on the mound, the last month or two was a battle for every pitch," Mulder said. "The arm slot would be different for every pitch. Today, I was landing in the same spot. I was releasing in the same spot. It just felt better. And that's what a lot of this is, is just feel."
It's unclear when and whether Mulder will begin a Minor League rehabilitation assignment. He has not pitched in a Major League game this year, though he did throw five games on a rehab assignment earlier this year. Mulder was shut down again after that rehab because of his continuing inability to get his arm into position.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.