Notes: Mulder to undergo surgery

Notes: Mulder to undergo surgery

WASHINGTON -- The second opinion on Mark Mulder's shoulder confirmed the first. The Cardinals announced on Wednesday that Mulder will undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair fraying in his left rotator cuff.

"It was exactly what we knew," said Barry Weinberg, the Cardinals' head athletic trainer.

The announcement came the same day that Mulder visited with Dr. David Altchek, a Mets team doctor, in New York. According to the Cardinals, Altchek's diagnosis agreed with that of Cardinals head team physician Dr. George Paletta -- that Mulder continues to have impingement in his left shoulder, as well as irritation, inflammation and fraying in his rotator cuff. Altchek is expected to perform the surgery.

When Mulder was initially diagnosed in June, he and the club attempted a non-surgical recovery. He missed two months, but when he returned to the mound, he was still clearly not right. After two more starts, he was shelved again.

"Even with the rest, all the exercises that he did, unfortunately where the fraying is located, he's not going to improve," said Mulder's agent, Greg Clifton. "He could lift weights from now til he's 90 years old, it's not going to eliminate this issue."

Thus, the left-hander will have an operation. It is expected to be a relatively routine procedure. Clifton estimated that the rehabilitation should take approximately 10-12 weeks, and that Mulder's offseason throwing program will not be affected.

"We went the most conservative route initially, which was to try to avoid any arthroscopic procedure at all costs," Clifton said. "Unfortunately, that approach didn't work."

Everyday Rolen: Scott Rolen entered the 2006 season with a "handle with care" label, thanks to shoulder surgery that ended '05 early for him. Rolen was expected to need plenty of days off while he took a year to regain his strength. Instead, the Gold Glover and All-Star ranks second to Juan Encarnacion in games played. Except for an illness in April, Rolen has had no extended stints out of the lineup.

Rolen received an off-day on Wednesday, but breathers have been rare.

"It's a negative in a sense," Rolen said, noting that David Eckstein, Jim Edmonds and Albert Pujols all have spent time on the disabled list this year. "There are a few guys who are supposed to be leading me in games played."

Rolen is closing in on 50 doubles. His home-run production is down a bit this year, but he's been hitting the ball hard for most of the season. Rolen believes that with a full winter of rest for his surgically repaired shoulder, he could enter 2007 with still more pop in his bat.

"I am hoping," he said. "I am thinking and hoping that four months of rest after being healthy [will make a difference]."

Encarnacion returns: Encarnacion was back in the starting lineup on Wednesday after missing two games with a muscle strain in the area of his left hip. He batted cleanup and played right field, with So Taguchi taking center.

"He felt like he needed a couple or three days," La Russa said on Wednesday morning. "I checked with him last night, and he said he could go. We'll watch him. If he gets sore, we'll get him out."

Schumaker finishes strong: Skip Schumaker and Team USA finished up an outstanding Olympic qualifying tournament with an 8-5 win over Cuba on Tuesday. Schumaker went 2-for-4 with a run scored in the final game, which was played before a partisan crowd of 45,000 in Havana. Team USA qualified for the 2008 Olympics, as did Cuba.

Schumaker finished the tournament with a .405 average (15-for-37), six walks and 15 runs scored. He is expected to join the Cardinals over the weekend in Phoenix.

"I think an experience like that is great for him," said La Russa. "Plus, he comes in [having been] playing under pressure, with his timing. And with Jimmy [Edmonds] out, there's plenty of chance for him to play. We're going in against a bunch of right-handers."

This date in Cardinals history: On Sept. 6, 1958, the Cardinals beat Don Drysdale and the Los Angeles Dodgers with a three-run eighth-inning rally. The Cards entered the inning trailing, 2-0, and after Irv Noren's RBI double cut the lead in half, Joe Cunningham hit a game-winning two-run homer. Bob Mabe struck out 10 over eight innings for the win. Thanks to Project Retrosheet (www.retrosheet.org) for the information.

Minor League playoffs: The playoffs are under way in the Minors, and two Cardinals affiliates are taking part. Class A Palm Beach dropped Game 1 of a best-of-three semifinal series to St. Lucie, 6-4, on Tuesday night. Jaime Garcia lasted just 3 1/3 innings in the loss. Luis Cotto had three hits for the "Beach Birds." Game 2 is set for Wednesday at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie.

Class A Quad Cities, meanwhile, opens postseason play on Wednesday night. The Swing will face Kane County in a home game at 6:30 p.m. CT.

The only Cards affiliate still playing regular-season games is short-season State College. The Spikes beat Batavia, 4-2, behind six innings of three-hit ball from Eddie Degerman. State College has been eliminated from playoff contention.

Coming up: The Cardinals will open a four-game series in Phoenix on Thursday with an 8:40 p.m. CT start against the Diamondbacks. Jeff Weaver (5-14, 5.92 ERA) will try to make it back-to-back quality starts when he goes up against Miguel Batista (10-5, 4.34).

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