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04/08/08 7:55 PM ET

Mulder nearly ready for rehab outing

Southpaw progressing in bid to rejoin Cardinals

HOUSTON -- It may be only six days until the clock begins ticking on Mark Mulder.

Mulder is scheduled to throw his second extended Spring Training game on Wednesday in Jupiter, Fla. If that goes well, his next game will mark the beginning of a Minor League rehabilitation assignment, and there will finally, officially, be a timetable for Mulder's return to the Major Leagues.

Once a pitcher begins a Minor League rehab, he has 30 days before he must be activated. Mulder may not necessarily even need the full month, according to general manager John Mozeliak.

"I would say pitch-count-wise, the answer is probably no," Mozeliak said. "But we'll see how he does."

Thanks to two shoulder operations, Mulder has made a total of five starts since June 20, 2006. However, he's been coming along well all spring, and the club is optimistic that he will be able to make a significant contribution in 2008.

Mulder would probably make only one start for Class A Palm Beach of the Florida State League before advancing to pitch at Double-A Springfield and/or Triple-A Memphis.

"Based on where our Minor League teams are, it kind of makes sense to start him at Palm Beach," Mozeliak said. "But I think he's probably, like everybody, ready to get out of there."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.