Originally created 08/27/99

Versatile Mulholland providing big boost for Braves

ATLANTA -- Terry Mulholland is agreeable to just about anything.

Start the game? Sure, no problem. Middle relief? That's OK, too. The final inning? Consider it done.

When the Atlanta Braves traded for Mulholland just before the July 31 trade deadline, they got a rubber-armed pitcher who can seemingly handle any role at a moment's notice.

"Every opportunity I have to get on the mound, face hitters and have a chance to get someone out, I relish that," said Mulholland, who was acquired from the Chicago Cubs along with Jose Hernandez. "I've never really thought of it any other way. Heck, if you're going to have a game, you might as well play. It's no fun sitting on the bench."

While Mulholland's overall numbers with the Cubs and Braves (7-7, 4.84 ERA, one save) are not very impressive, his value to Atlanta has been demonstrated over the past two weeks.

On Aug. 14, he pitched 1 2-3 innings of relief against Los Angeles. Three days later, he started against Colorado and allowed only three runs in seven innings at Coors Field. Two days after that, he was back on the mound against the Rockies, pitching the 14th inning to pick up a save. Finally, he started on two days rest against San Diego, giving up just two runs in eight innings.

"When we got Terry, everyone in here realized the importance of it, though I'm not sure people outside the clubhouse realized," Braves starter Tom Glavine said. "The guy is very versatile. He seemingly has a rubber arm."

While many of his younger teammates have to attach a bulky bag of ice to their pitching arm after every appearance, the 36-year-old Mulholland never seems flustered, never seems tired, never seems sore.

"I show up, make my relief appearance or make my start, take my shower and go home," he said with a shrug.

Mulholland has been on the disabled list only twice in his 13-year career -- the first coming in 1988 when his forearm was broken by a line drive from Atlanta's Gerald Perry.

"It's kind of hard to pitch with a broken forearm," Mulholland joked.

Then, in 1995, he needed surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow. Even then, he was only out four weeks, a period that included two rehabilitation starts in the minors.

Mulholland's durability and versatility have come in quite handy for the injury plagued Braves, who acquired him shortly after losing fifth starter Odalis Perez for the season.

Greg Maddux cracked a bone in his wrist last weekend, forcing him to miss Friday night's scheduled start at St. Louis. Mulholland, of course, will step in, anxious to get back on the mound after four full days of rest.

Mulholland also provides insurance behind John Smoltz, pitching with a tenuous elbow that already has landed him on the DL twice this season.

Braves general manager John Schuerholz insisted that Mulholland be part of the deal with the Cubs, who didn't want to give him up since he still has another year on his contract.

"Versatility was an attraction, but it wasn't the primary attraction," Schuerholz said. "What was most important to our scouts was they thought he was a real competitive guy, a real warrior. When things get tough in a pennant race, you want to have a guy like Terry Mulholland on your team."

Mulholland has fit right in with the first-place Braves, though he admits to being a little surprised about the transition.

"When I used to be in the visitors' dugout here, I would look across the field and see these guys winning and doing it with a business-as-usual approach," Mulholland recalled. "You get a little bit envious of that, a little jealous, a little disgusted about it."

The view is much different from the Braves clubhouse.

"It's been a 180-degree turn," Mulholland said. "It's great to be in a clubhouse where you can go up to a Greg Maddux or a Tom Glavine or a John Smoltz and exchange ideas. I pick their brain, they pick my brain a little bit. It's like a think tank. It's great to be invited into that."


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