03/10/2006 5:30 PM ET
Notes: Mercker sees first spring action
Wilson throws 90 pitches; pitchers work on pickoff moves
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Bothered most of camp by a pulled lat muscle behind his throwing shoulder, Reds reliever Kent Mercker finally saw his first game action of spring on Friday.
In Cincinnati's 5-4 win over the Yankees, Mercker threw one scoreless inning. The lefty retired the side in order in the top of the fourth with one strikeout.
"I felt good," Mercker said. "Right now for me, that's the only thing I wanted to take out of it. ... Physically, I passed every test I gave myself."
Mercker said he was able to use all of his pitches at full strength.
"It was outstanding to see Merck out there," manager Jerry Narron said. "He threw really well."
Mercker reported soreness after warming up for a workout Feb. 23. Although it was considered a minor injury, there had been no shortage of inquiries about his health.
"Heck, I had the guy taking baseball card pictures saying, 'Hey, is your shoulder alright?'" Mercker said. "There's nothing worse than not being able to participate. It's not boring. Nothing about this job is boring. But it's not as much fun standing on the sidelines."
If his arm responds favorably from this first game, Mercker will likely get into another game in a couple of days. Narron felt Mercker would have no trouble making up for lost time and should be ready for the regular season.
"If he's healthy, that's all I'm worried about," Narron said.
Mercker was 3-1 with a 3.65 ERA and four saves in 78 games last season. He will be one of Narron's options for a closer this season.
Injury report: Starting pitcher Paul Wilson reached his highest pitch count of his rehabilitation program Friday when he threw 90 pitches. Wilson tossed 60 pitches in the bullpen before throwing 30 more in live batting practice.
"He said he felt good," head trainer Mark Mann said.
Wilson is scheduled to throw in the bullpen again Sunday and work at least one more live BP session before pitching in an intrasquad game.
Following two days off, starting pitcher Aaron Harang (right shoulder inflammation) played catch Friday and reported no issues.
Infielder William Bergolla (groin) has started taking batting practice, fielding ground balls and running at approximately 70 percent effort. Bergolla could see his first game action beginning next weekend.
Runners beware: Looking to keep opponents from running on the Reds this season, Narron has his pitchers working on their pickoff moves in camp and at games -- especially to second base.
"I would love to see us get some outs other than just the pitcher throwing the ball to the hitter," Narron said. "If you throw a ball away on a pickoff, it will not cost you a chance to make this ballclub. But I want to see guys making some pickoff throws."
Narron pointed out that Brewers 18-game winner Chris Capuano is one of the game's best at holding runners. Capuano allowed just two stolen bases among 949 batters faced last season.
"A big part of it is he completely shuts down the running game," Narron said. "It's tough to get secondary leads off him. They can't even get primary leads off him, let alone secondary."
In Friday's game, starter Phil Dumatrait successfully picked off a runner at first base.
Seen and heard: Adam Dunn made his second start in left field this spring Friday, while Scott Hatteberg started at first base against New York.
The namesake of the Reds' Spring Training ballpark, Ed Smith, died Thursday after a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease. Smith, who was 91, was considered pivotal in bringing spring baseball to the city when the White Sox began training here in 1960. There was a moment of silence before the game.
Coming up: Left-hander Brandon Claussen will make his second spring start Saturday when the Blue Jays come to town for a 1:05 p.m. ET game. Josh Banks is Toronto's scheduled starter.