Mulder back in Oakland for special weekend

Former A's pitcher to throw first pitch alongside Zito, Hudson in Sunday's finale

Mulder back in Oakland for special weekend

OAKLAND -- Just as he did for five years as their teammate, Mark Mulder cheered on Barry Zito and Tim Hudson on Saturday afternoon, this time as a fan on a nostalgic day at the Coliseum, where Hudson and Zito met as opponents in a Bay Bridge matchup between the A's and Giants.

Mulder, on the scene for a special weekend celebrating the Big Three -- which will feature the trio throwing out the first pitch ahead of Sunday's finale -- spoke from the dugout he long called home, with his wife and three children close to his side as he reflected on his former baseball family.

"It's nice to be back, and it's nice to see some of the same faces," said Mulder, who won 81 games with the A's from 2000-04. "All of the security guys up front and in the clubhouse, not much has changed, besides all of us getting a little older and a little grayer, but it's nice to see those people again, because they were a big part of when I was younger."

Speaking about the A's Zito and the Giants' Hudson being reunited at the place where it all began as their careers come to a close, Mulder said, "They've essentially had more than twice the career that I had. As long as they've done it, it's really special. I think, looking back at it, they'll appreciate that they had this opportunity today later in life, how cool that was.

"I just want to see them both pitch well. I wish they could've faced each other [in a National League ballpark]. That would've been better, because Huddy always used to brag about how he would rake Zito."

Mulder, now an analyst for ESPN after injuries derailed his career, relayed the respect he has for Zito's determination to return to a big league mound and the discipline it took to get there during an entire season at Triple-A Nashville.

"It's amazing," he said. "I don't think I would've done it if I was in his shoes. That goes to show you his love for the game and how much he dedicates himself into everything he's doing. I think this is the reward for that, and I think that's great."

Mulder mostly sticks to golf these days, most recently teeing it up with former A's third baseman Eric Chavez and second baseman Mark Ellis this week, but he keeps his arm fresh throwing to 7-year-olds -- among them his oldest son.

Come Sunday, he said, smiling, "I'm just hoping whoever I'm throwing it to is able to catch it."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.