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Notes: Mulder anxious for season
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04/01/2004  9:38 PM ET
Notes: Mulder anxious for season
Mark Mulder allowed seven runs in five innings. (Ted S. Warren/AP)
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Starting pitcher Mark Mulder admitted he can't wait for regular-season games to begin Monday. His five-inning, seven-run outing Thursday against the Royals was indicative of his difficulty focusing in the later stages of a long Spring Training.

"I'm ready to get going," Mulder proclaimed after leaving the game. "Enough of this Spring Training stuff. You try to have that focus each and every start in Spring Training, but it just doesn't happen."

The fact that Mulder was backed up by a largely minor league team in the field didn't help him with his concentration. Though the A's made only one error, there were balls his infield never got close to that his more experienced teammates might have got their gloves on.

"It's tough to look at it this way, but chances are that was a double play in the first inning and no runs," Mulder said, referring to what could have been a double-play grounder to third but ended up instead as a run-scoring error. "You don't realize just how good Chavy [regular third baseman Eric Chavez] is."

Mulder pitched through traffic in each of his first four innings, accumulating 79 pitches as he struggled against the Royals. Before he went out for the fifth inning, pitching coach Curt Young told him he had 11 pitches left, and his focus finally kicked in.

    Mark Mulder   /   P
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 200
Bats/Throws: L/L

More info:
Player page
Stats
Splits
Athletics site

"I went out there focused that fifth inning, saying 'I got to finish this inning in 11 pitches,' and I did it in 10," Mulder said. "I actually was just a little bit more focused that inning because I knew I only had 11 pitches and I didn't want [Young] to come out and take me out of the game."

Despite issues with back pain earlier in the spring, Mulder insisted he felt fine and that his back was not the source of his below-par day on the hill. His ERA ballooned up to 6.74 after Thursday's game, and he finished the spring 0-2 with one strikeout in 16 innings pitched.

"I'm not hitting the inside part of the plate to righties like I'd like to," he explained. "I [messed] up on a lot of those today and made some bad pitches, but for the most part this whole spring I've been pretty good with that. Just not my last two starts."

Mulder was confident that he's ready for the season to start, knowing his game will go up a notch when the games finally matter. He cited a night game against the Cubs, facing Greg Maddux and pitching four shutout innings, as a good example of how his performance elevates when the conditions are closer to real game situations.

"It's the competition thing, when you're out there and it's your job on the line, it's your livelihood," he said. "Obviously things are more laid back in Spring Training. I couldn't get into this one until that last inning when Curt said you got 11 pitchers and you're done."

Chad Bradford followed Mulder with an efficient 1 1/3 innings, retiring each of the four batters he faced.

Other Major League A's in the game included Damian Miller, who hit his first Cactus League home run and knocked in his first RBI of the spring in the third inning. Scott Hatteberg and Eric Karros started at first base and DH, respectively, and each went 1-for-4 on the day.

Numbers game: Going into play Thursday, the A's led the Major Leagues in home runs (41), runs scored (191), and walks (128). The pitching staff's 4.68 ERA is third best in the Cactus League.

On tap: The full squad returns to the Bay Area tomorrow, taking on the Giants at SBC Park in a 7:15 pm PT game. Barry Zito takes the hill for the A's, facing San Francisco's Jerome Williams.

Owen Perkins is a contributing writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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