Reds' Mercker gets lots of laughs ... except from mother-in-law
By Hal McCoy / Staff Writer
CINCINNATI | On nights he doesn't pitch, which isn't often, Cincinnati Reds reliever Kent Mercker could appear on the HBO comedy show One Night Stand, or he could go on Jeopardy and probably win.
Mercker missed the entire 2001 season after he suffered a brain aneurysm while on the mound pitching for the Anaheim Angels. Of course, he jokes about it now as he explains how it happened.
"My brain was already full of information, and when the pitching coach came to give me one more piece of information, that was too much. My brain exploded," he said.
Mercker, 38, is scheduled to come off the disabled list (sore elbow) tonight when the Reds begin a killer stretch on their schedule, beginning with a three-game series this weekend against the Arizona Diamondbacks, leaders of the National League West.
After the Reds visit Chicago to start next week, June arrives and the schedule tightens down: Houston, St. Louis, the Chicago White Sox, the New York Mets and two series against Cleveland.
"It'll be good to get Mercker back so we have another good, solid left-hander in the bullpen," Reds manager Jerry Narron said.
And it will be good to have him on the road next week in Chicago, Houston and St. Louis. His pitching and his humor were missed when the Reds went 2-4 on a trip to Pittsburgh and Detroit.
Mercker threw in the bullpen Monday and said, "I threw about 38 pitches, which is about two-thirds of an inning for me. I need to build that up to 50."
He threw again Wednesday, and when asked if he got it up to 50, he said, "Fifty miles an hour? Almost. Oh, you mean pitches? Well, I aired it out today, threw hard until I got tired."
Asked when he got tired, he said, "After seven pitches."
It also was Mercker who said he had an MRI, and the doctor told him he had an old elbow. Said Mercker, "I could have saved you $700 and 45 minutes. I have an old elbow, old feet, old knees and an old wife."
Mercker said his wife received nine phone calls before 8 a.m. the next morning when that appeared in the newspaper and, "My mother-in-law called — called me a foul name and hung up."